Alcatel-Lucent's future at risk - CEO

PARIS Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:14am EDT

PARIS Oct 15 (Reuters) - Alcatel-Lucent's future is at risk after the telecoms company missed key technological shifts and has been in the red since 2006, its chief executive Michel Combes warned on Tuesday as workers prepared to protest against job cuts.

The Franco-American group last week unveiled plans to slash 10,000 jobs worldwide, including 900 in France, arguing the cuts were its last chance to stem years of losses and turn the company around.

Labour unions have called for workers to take the streets in Paris on Tuesday to protest against the plans, which involve closing several sites in the country.

The French government, battling against years of de-industrialisation and high unemployment, has also warned it could use new labour rules to block the plan.

"This company could disappear," Combes told Europe 1 radio, noting it had been loss-making since Alcatel, once one of France's biggest conglomerates, merged with Lucent in 2006.

"The plan sets targets that are key to the survival of the company ... But it can obviously be improved. That's the point of the social talks that begin today," he said.

Combes said he had four months to negotiate with unions the terms and the timeframe of the restructuring.

Combes, who took the helm of Alcatel-Lucent in April, said he had already put aside a plan by predecessor Ben Verwaayen that aimed to completely end the group's activities in France.

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