Ekinops in talks to buy Alcatel Submarine Networks from Nokia
French network equipment maker Ekinops has approached Nokia about buying its Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) unit.
The company – which largely focuses on terrestrial fibre network equipment – confirmed this morning that it has “initiated preliminary discussions” about buying ASN.
It added: “There is no certainty at this stage that these discussions can lead to any agreement or any operation.”
Nokia, which has been trying to find a buyer for ASN since its €15.6 billion acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent two years ago, has not yet commented. However it is due to publish its next quarterly results on Thursday 25 October, and an analyst conference is scheduled for that afternoon, so Rajeev Suri, the CEO of Nokia, can be expected to respond to questions.
Ekinops said it “will not make any further comments [on the talks] unless these discussions result in an agreement or are discontinued”.
News of the talks emerged following Ekinops’s publication of its own third quarter results, in which it announced revenues of €20.9 million. Consolidated revenue over the first nine months of the year was €63 million. The company, which bought rival company OneAccess in October 2017, said it was on track for annual revenue of €82 million.
Alcatel-Lucent tried to unravel ASN from its portfolio before its takeover by Nokia, which was announced in April 2015, but attempts to find a trade buyer or to demerge it from the parent company failed. These moves ended so that Nokia could complete the merger in January 2016, though it took until November that year for the Finnish company to squeeze out minority shareholders.
One of the challenges was pressure from the French government to find a French buyer for the operation – a requirement that will be met if the Ekinops talks are successful.
Deep in its history ASN is the oldest subsea cable maker in the world. It still has a repeater factory in Greenwich, south-east London, on part of the site of the factory that in 1851 built the first telegraph cable across the English Channel.