Alcatel-Lucent is attracting a number of potential buyers for its submarine cable unit, including several private equity firms as well as France Télécom and the French government's sovereign wealth fund, according to a Bloomberg report. Analysts have predicted the submarine unit may go for around €800 million (US$1.1 billion), while the enterprise unit, which is also up for grabs, has been valued at up to €400 million ($534 million). (See Euronews: French Govt Eyes AlcaLu Subsea Unit and For Sail: Alcatel-Lucent's Subsea Business.)
Still on a Gallic theme, Reuters reports (citing Le Figaro) that France's antitrust watchdog has sounded a warning against mergers that would mean a return to just three domestic operators. Earlier this month one French radio station reported that Iliad and Vivendi were considering a merger of their mobile units (Free Mobile and SFR respectively).
France Télécom – Orange has teamed up with Chinese Internet firm Baidu Inc. to develop a co-branded smartphone browser for Android device users in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa developing markets. The browser will be available for pre-installing or download in Arabic and English initially, while a French version is also being developed. Orange has about 80 million customers in those regions and, in an effort to boost group revenues, has expressed its intention to develop its business in Africa and the Middle East, where demand for mobile Internet capabilities is high and penetration relatively low compared with saturated European markets. (See Orange, Baidu Develop Browser for AMEA.)
Dutch incumbent KPN is to launch its first 4G services in Amsterdam during February and then roll out LTE across the country during the rest of the year, reports DutchNews.
U.S. cable giant Liberty Global has increased its stake in Belgium's Telenet to 58 percent, up from 51 percent. Mike Fries, president and CEO of Liberty Global said in a statement: "We believe that this is the right time for Telenet to be more closely integrated within our pan-European platform." (See Liberty Global Bids $2.5B for Telenet.)