* Goldman, Credit Suisse are underwriters
* Credit facility backed by patent portfolio, other assets
* New target for adj op margin of 6-9 pct by 2015
* Shares up 10 pct
(Adds shares, analyst)
By Leila Abboud
PARIS, Dec 14 Telecom equipment maker
Alcatel-Lucent agreed a 1.6 billion euro ($2.1
billion) financing deal, backed partly by its patents, that
could buy the loss-making group time to cut costs.
The Franco-American company has been hit by competition from
low-cost Chinese rivals and lower spending on network gear by
global telecom operators.
Chief Executive Ben Verwaayen is racing to cut 1.25 billion
euros costs by the end of 2013, via layoffs and exiting
unprofitable countries and contracts, to staunch an average
annual cash burn of 700 million euros.
The Dutch executive has struggled to fulfill a pledge made
when he arrived in September 2008 to make Alcatel-Lucent a
"normal company" with regular profit and healthy cash flows.
The senior secured credit facility will be backed by the
group's 29,000 patents, among other assets, and was expected to
be completed in January. Denominated in dollars and euros, the
debt will have maturities ranging from 3-1/2 years to six years.
The group gave no detail about what other assets could be
put up for collateral, but sources earlier told Reuters that the
undersea cable unit could be used or otherwise sold completely
to strengthen the group's balance sheet.
Despite the challenges it faces, Alcatel-Lucent also
provided a new guidance for 2015 gross margin in the range of
35-37 percent and an adjusted operating margin of 6-9 percent.
The operating margin target is slightly higher than the
above 5 percent goal set by Verwaayen in 2010 as part of his
turnaround plan, and could prove ambitious if the telecom gear
market doesn't pick up.
Pierre Ferragu, analyst at Bernstein Research said: "We
don't believe the 2015 target presented by management is
credible. It implies a significant recovery in gross margins in
optics and a stabilisation of negative trends at most other
The company also made no mention of a cash flow goal;
Verwaayen had aimed for the group to reach positive cash flow in
Shares were up 9.9 percent at 0928 GMT to 0.94 euros as
investors welcomed the breathing space brought by the credit
"These new credit facilities in our view improve the
liquidity of the company but do not solve the underlying
problems of weak profitability, poor underlying free cash flow
and an overall company debt level that looks too high for a
cyclical technology company," JP Morgan analysts said in a
Although Alcatel-Lucent still has significant cash reserves,
analysts had been worried in recent months about the group's
financial solidity as it burns cash from its operations.
Before Friday, the company faced about 2.2 billion euros in
debt repayments through to the end of 2015.
Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs agreed the
(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Erica Billingham)