Lucent may sell optical-fibre business

Lucent may sell optical-fibre business

Lucent Technologies said it's considering either selling its Atlanta-based optical-fibre business or forming a joint venture with another company.

That official word from Lucent comes on the heels of rumours that the financially strapped maker of networking and telecommunications equipment would sacrifice ownership of all or part of the optical-fibre manufacturing unit to shore up its cash position.

Just last month, Lucent announced that it had secured $US4.5 billion in new financing and agreements from lenders to restructure $2 billion of existing debt.

Bill O'Shea, executive vice president of corporate strategy and business development at Lucent, said in a statement that the company's optical-fibre business had grown by 60 per cent in fiscal 2000 and characterised its performance as "stellar." Lucent said its optical-fibre business employs some 6300 people worldwide.

Possible buyers of Lucent's optical-fibre unit include French telecommunications equipment-maker Alcatel and Corning.

Officials at Lucent wouldn't comment on prospective purchasers or joint venture partners.

The company has faced hard times lately. The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating its accounting practices after a "revenue recognition" issue trimmed revenue for the fourth quarter of 2000 by $125 million. In December 2000, Lucent announced that the revenue reduction was actually $679 million.

In January of this year, Lucent began an aggressive restructuring program that cut 10,000 jobs and closed two manufacturing plants.

Lucent also ousted Rich McGinn as chairman and CEO in October after the company failed to meet earnings forecasts for five quarters.

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