PARIS Jan 14 France Telecom would
consider taking over the subsea cables business of
Alcatel-Lucent, Chief Executive Stephane Richard told
reporters on Monday.
The group has expressed its interest in principle in Alcatel
Submarine Networks (ASN), though "for the moment it hasn't gone
any further", Richard said.
France Telecom has been looking for months at how ASN and
its FT Marine unit could work better together, the CEO said.
Alcatel, the loss-making Franco-American telecom equipment
maker, is racing to cut costs and reduce cash burn after being
hit by competition from low-cost Chinese rivals and lower
spending on network gear by global telecom operators.
French daily newspaper Les Echos reported last month that
the government was trying to arrange a deal in which France
Telecom would acquire part of Alcatel-Lucent's subsea cable
unit, which was seen as a "strategic" asset.
The government was also mulling a deal in which the French
FSI sovereign wealth fund would buy a stake in Alcatel-Lucent's
cablemaking unit, according to the paper.
Richard also said on Monday that France Telecom was gearing
up for a "difficult" year, adding that the economy would in all
likelihood slow down, at least in Europe where France Telecom
makes 90 percent of sales.