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Eurobites: Alcatel Spews News

Ray Le Maistre
11/24/2006

The U.S. market might have relaxed into a Thanksgiving torpor, but Europe and Asia/Pacific are hot with contract, M&A, partnership, and employment news.

Alcatel's China and ROADM News
First stop is Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), which has been hogging the headlines of late with news of its impending merger with Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU). (See Bush Approves Alcatel Lucent and US to Watch Alcatel Lucent.)

But while its bride-to-be is in quiet mode at present, the French giant has been issuing news about an IP router deal in China, a ROADM contract in Western Europe, and a more aggressive push into Chinese 3G with partner Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group . (See China Mobile Uses Alcatel's IP, Alcatel Wins ROADM Deal, and Alcatel, Datang Get Closer.)

So is Alcatel clearing its decks of Alcatel-specific news before it ties the knot with Lucent, a union set for next Thursday, November 30? Not at all, says Alcatel. The announcements are all timed around when customers want it to go live. "We're not holding on to or pushing through anything," says a spokesman.

Firms Club Together for Czech Purchases
A consortium comprising Lehman Brothers ' private equity business, Mid Europa Partners , and Al Bateen, an Abu Dhabi-based investment house, have paid €1.19 billion ($1.54 billion) for Czech operator Ceske Radiokomunikace a.s. , also known as CRa. (See Trio Buy Into Czech Players.)

The investors are getting more than just CRa, though. As well as being an alternative fixed-line carrier and the Czech Republic's only national provider of TV and radio broadcast transmission services, CRa owns 39.2 percent of T-Mobile Czech Republic a.s. , the country's leading mobile player with 4.8 million subscribers -- giving it a 40 percent market share.

T-Mobile Czech Republic is one of eastern Europe's most experimental mobile operators, having launched a wireless broadband service using TD-CDMA technology, and a recent mobile TV trial. (See T-Mobile Trials Mobile TV and T-Mobile Launches 4G.)

The main competitor to T-Mobile Czech Republic is Telefónica O2 Czech Republic , which has roughly the same market share and fixed-line activities too, including IPTV. (See O2TV Adds Content.)

Resignations at Ericsson, COLT, and Tele2
There have been some high-level personnel changes at leading European telecom players in the past few days.

Colt Technology Services Group Ltd CEO Jean-Yves Charlier is stepping down in December to return to the Ethernet service provider's leading investor Fidelity Ventures . He will be replaced by another Fidelity man, Rakesh Bhasin. (See COLT Names New CEO.)

Another pan-European service provider, Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO), has lost its CFO, Håkan Zadler, who had been with the carrier for six years. The company aims to replace him before the end of the year. (See Tele2 CFO Quits.) Analysts at Lehman Brothers noted that Zadler is not the only senior executive to leave Tele2 in the past 12 months. (See Tele2 Appoints Sales VP and Tele2 Makes Exec Changes.)

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), meanwhile, is losing its head of Strategy & Product Management, Torbjörn Nilsson, though he will still work as "a strategic advisor and consultant to the executive management on a 50% basis." Joakim Westh, head of the Operational Excellence group, takes on Nilsson's responsibilities. (See Strategy Exec Leaves Ericsson.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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