Report: Alcatel-Lucent plans to cut fewer jobs in France

Alcatel-Lucent said it will cut fewer jobs in France than originally planned, indicating that the US-Franco equipment manufacturer and the country's mobile operators have been influenced by pressure from the French government.

The company's chief executive Michel Combes told Le Monde newspaper that the company no longer envisages cutting 900 jobs, instead cutting fewer than 700 posts.

In October last year, Alcatel-Lucent said it would cut a further 10,000 jobs worldwide by 2015 as part of its restructuring plan, called the Shift Plan, sparking massive protests in France.

France's industry minister Arnaud Montebourg again appealed to Combes in January to make a larger effort to preserve more jobs in France. The French government is under growing pressure over the high level of unemployment in the country, and has even previously threatened to use new rules to block the job cuts.

Combes said 170 out of the 250 research and development staff at its Orvault site in northwestern France, which it is closing, would switch to a specialist telecoms business set up by engineering consultancy Altran, according to the Le Monde report.

Combes also said calls by French politicians for the country's operators to support the French equipment manufacturer had had "concrete results".

He cited a small cells agreement signed with Orange, and a deal with SFR to build its fibre optic network. Other talks with Bouygues Telecom, Numericable and Outremer Telecom are also in progress, he added.

Earlier this week reports also suggested that Alcatel-Lucent is again considering a sale of its enterprise unit and is in talks with potential buyers.

According to Bloomberg, the buyers include Unify GmbH & Co. GK, which is owned by Gores Group and Siemens, as well as two other groups including a Chinese investor. The unit sells services and equipment to companies and reported revenue of €764 million ($1 billion) in 2012.

Citing unidentified sources, Bloomberg said a decision on the sale could be made by March, with the unit possibly valued at as much as €250 million.

Combes originally outlined further cost-cutting measures under the Shift Plan in June in a drive to become cash-flow positive by 2015, and also touted a new slimmed-down organisational structure that will see the company focus on three main segments to become a specialist in IP networking and ultra high-speed broadband.

The group plans to focus on high-growth areas such as LTE and high-speed broadband, and to lower fixed costs by more than 15 per cent, saving a total of €1 billion ($1.37 billion). It also plans to generate a further €1 billion from asset disposals by 2015.

For more:
- see this Le Monde article (translated by Google Translate) (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article

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