The French government and private equity funds offered to buy future licence revenue for a portion of Alcatel-Lucent's wireless patents, according to a Les Echos report, which did not name its source.
The potential deal, which would be put together by a government-owned entity founded to invest in patents, would involve around a quarter of Alcatel-Lucent's 29,000 patents, the report said.
While the value of the deal is unknown, Patents IP Global valued the company's intellectual property at €5 billion prior to the vendor obtaining €1.6 billion in loans in mid-December. The company has been working with RPX to exploit its patents with the aim of achieving annual sales of €500 million. However, the Les Echos article maintains that this exercise has generated little success so far.
A spokesman for France's finance ministry did not immediately have any comment, according to Dow Jones Newswires and a spokesman for Alcatel-Lucent declined to comment.
The French government, which is keen to keep the struggling telecoms equipment manufacturer afloat, has indicated concern over Alcatel-Lucent's ability to develop wireless technology for the U.S. market, given that the company's major customers are the U.S. operators.
The report noted that the effort Alcatel-Lucent has expended in developing its miniature lightRadio base station has come to little after Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility said they had no need for technology with this capability. However, Sprint Nextel, the No. 3 U.S. operator, said last year it would take advantage of the lightRadio gear.
In an effort to buy time for a restructuring, Alcatel-Lucent agreed in December to mortgage assets--including its patent portfolio--to investment banks Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs. The deal triggered worries among French government officials that the country could lose valuable wireless patents to foreign banks.
Alcatel-Lucent boosted by Credit Suisse ratings upgrade
Alcatel-Lucent granted lifeline with €1.6B loan from banks
Alcatel-Lucent may offload patents to raise cash
Alcatel-Lucent mulls asset sales as cash burn rate climbs in Q3
Alcatel-Lucent details 5,490 job cuts as reorganisation bites
Rumour Mill: Alcatel-Lucent losing ground with French operators