US lawmakers seek close-door probe of Lucent-Alcatel merger

Top executives from Lucent Technologies and Alcatel are set to testify behind closed doors before a US House panel chaired by a lawmaker who questions the national security impact of the French company's acquisition of the former technology arm of AT&T, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report quoted officials as saying that since classified and confidential business information would be discussed, the briefing would be closed to the public.

It was originally scheduled to be an open hearing, the report said.

Lucent CEO Patricia Russo and Mike Quigley, COO of Paris-based Alcatel SA, are scheduled to appear before the committee, headed by Duncan Hunter, the outgoing Republican chairman, the Associated Press report said.

Hunter, whose California district includes many workers of Qualcomm, a key competitor of Lucent and Alcatel, says he is worried about whether classified work Lucent's Bell Labs performs for the Defense Department will be kept secret when Alcatel completes its takeover of Lucent.

'I am concerned about potential transfers of technology or sensitive information to other countries with which Alcatel has business dealings, which have included Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria,' Hunter was quoted as saying, in a latter he wrote in October 26 to President George W. Bush.

The hearing is not expected to derail the deal, which has cleared antitrust review in the US and EU and been approved by shareholders of both companies, the Associated Press report further said.