Alcatel-Lucent may sell some patents to bolster balance sheet

Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ: ALU) said it may sell some of its patents as it works to strengthen its finances and remove doubts about its balance sheet, a senior company executive said.

"We can look to monetize that portfolio through licensing, through limited sales if those patents aren't part of our core and a few other things," CFO Paul Tufano said Thursday at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Barcelona. "We look at all of the above."

Alcatel-Lucent has almost 30,000 patents and 15,000 patent applications pending, he noted.

Tufano said earlier this month when the vendor posted a loss for the third quarter that Alcatel-Lucent was considering unspecified asset sales to boost its finances. Tufano said the company is "extremely focused" on improving its finances, and told Reuters that the company has received interest from many sources for its patents. Earlier this month the company appointed Craig Thompson to lead a new business unit managing its patents as a dedicated profit center.

According to Reuters, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Alcatel-Lucent may decide to pledge its submarine cable business, patents or other assets to back its debt.

Separately, the vendor announced that David Geary will take over as the head of its wireless business effective Jan. 1. Geary, who was previously president of the wireline division, will assume control of Alcatel-Lucent's GSM, CDMA, LTE, small cell and lightRadio products. Geary is replacing Wim Sweldens, who is leaving the company; Alcatel-Lucent did not give any reason for Sweldens' departure.

Research firm Dell'Oro estimated that Nokia Siemens Networks overtook Alcatel-Lucent as the No. 2 LTE vendor in the world by revenue in the third quarter, a reversal from the second quarter when Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Alcatel-Lucent led the LTE market.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article
- see this release

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