Analysts: Alcatel close to buying Nortel's UMTS biz

Analysts say Alcatel is in advanced talks to purchase Nortel's UMTS division. According to Oddo Securities in France, the acquisition process is well advanced. Oddo analyst Vincent Maulay values the UMTS business at about $1.9 billion with $2.8 billion in revenue in 2005. The analyst firm estimates that the business had a negative operating margin of 15 percent. UBS Securities told clients last month that Nortel had separated its GSM and UMTS access businesses, which may be a sign that the company is spinning off its UMTS business. UBS said the acquisition makes sense, but Alcatel, which is set to merge with Lucent, would face a big integration risk. UBS says the combined UMTS worldwide market share that Alcatel and Lucent hold was 4 percent last year. Alcatel would have to integrate its UMTS platform with both Lucent's and Nortel's. However, Nortel's UMTS Access business would give Alcatel access to key Nortel UMTS customers, including Orange, mmO2, Vodafone (Spain/Italy/UK) and both SK Telecom and KT Freetel.

For more about Alcatel's potential purchase of Nortel's UMTS business:
- check out this article from MarketWatch