Alcatel-Lucent still on lookout for buyer for subsea cable unit

Alcatel-Lucent says it wants to settle the future of its submarine cable unit as Nokia pushes ahead with its €15.6 billion purchase of the rest of the group.

Global Telecoms Business (GTB) reports that Alcatel-Lucent is still planning to find a new home for its submarine networks division. 

The company said in 2014 that it was investigating an initial public offering of shares in Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks. 

An Alcatel-Lucent official told GTB: "We are currently considering a full set of options, including an IPO, spin-out or straight sale. Whichever option will be selected, it will be with the intent of allowing ASN to become fully independent of the 'new’ Nokia that will be formed by the proposed merger."

A deal seems to be one of the major blocks to the Nokia deal. Even though the European Union and the US have approved the merger, both parties are still saying completion will not be until the first half of 2016.

Another prerequisite is Nokia’s sale of its Here mapping division. The company has announced that a consortium of car makers will buy it for €2.8 billion, and that sale is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2016.

Alcatel-Lucent has not yet announced any detailed plans for selling or floating ASN. The official told GTB: "We announced plans for a partial capital opening in our submarine cables subsidiary some months ago because we strongly believe that it is an asset with tremendous opportunities to grow, but which needs to have its own independence in order to do so."

In an earlier statement the company it would explore the flotation of ASN through an IPO, "in order to finance the reinforcement of its leadership in telecom submarine systems and its diversification into the oil and gas market, to increase its visibility and to optimise capital allocation".

CEO Michel Combes told reporters in September 2014 that the group was "in advanced talks with an oil and gas services company" about ASN, but 11 months later no progress has been reported.

Alcatel-Lucent told Global Telecoms Business: "We're not commenting on the timing of when a decision or an action will be announced, but will provide an update as and when there is something to say."

Yesterday ASN announced that it had completed commissioning of the Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS).