France looking to buy into Alcatel cable unit

PARIS Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:21am EST

PARIS Jan 10 (Reuters) - The French state could take part in the purchase of Alcatel-Lucent's submarine cable unit in a deal aimed at easing financial pressure on the indebted telecoms gear maker, French business newspaper Agefi reported on Thursday.

In December, Les Echos reported that the French government was trying to arrange a deal in which France Telecom would acquire part of the cable business..

France's sovereign wealth fund is one of several potential buyers looking at the business, whose sale could raise 600-700 million euros, Agefi reported citing unnamed sources close to the matter.

Both French sovereign wealth fund FSI and Alcatel-Lucent declined to comment.

The French government is concerned about Alcatel-Lucent's plan to use patents as collateral for its 1.6 billion euro loan because intellectual property could fall into the hands of foreign banks.

In December, the loss-making telecoms equipment maker agreed an asset-backed loan from Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs to help it deal with incoming debt maturities and fund its ongoing restructuring.

(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Christian Plumb)