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Alcatel sells satellite unit, buys voice company

Posted by iTech - 2006-04-06

MANHASSET, N.Y. — French telecommunications company Alcatel said Wednesday (April 5) it would sell its satellite, railway signaling, and mission-critical services businesses to Thales for cash and stock reportedly amounting to $2.08 billion.

Alcatel would boost its stake in Thales to 21.6 percent, with Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault keeping a 5 percent share and the French state remaining the majority shareholder at 27.1 percent.

The deal comes after the recent merger of Alcatel with Lucent Technologies in a deal worth $36 billion. According to an Associated Press report, the deal was considered essential by Alcatel chairman and chief executive Serge Tchuruk to complete the Lucent deal.

In an unrelated deal, Alcatel also said it would purchase VoiceGenie, a private maker of voice-recognition software, for an undisclosed amount. VoiceGenie (Toronto) makes software for voice-activated communications services such as virtual operators and speech-recognition orders. The company's customers include Verizon, AT&T and Orange.

According to Gartner/Dataquest, Genesys and VoiceGenie are numbers one and two in market share in the voice self-service field, respectively. The company said the combination will give it nearly 25 percent of the market, more than twice the size of its closest competitor.

Alcatel expects the market for voice self service to double in the next three years.



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