July 30, 2008

Market Chatter: Alcatel’s Thales Sale a Step Nearer

THE departure of Alcatel-Lucent chairman Serge Tchuruk may speed up efforts to sell the group's stake in Thales, Europe's largest defence electronics firm, which he helped take public.

Analysts said a sale of the 20.8 per cent stake was more likely because of a strategic disparity between the two groups, though Alcatel-Lucent's finance director stressed it was under no pressure to sell the shares to fund its operations.

Alcatel obtained the stake after participating in Thales's privatisation a decade ago and through a later exchange of assets when it merged with Lucent in 2006.

Dassault Aviation, whose controlling Dassault family owns 5.2 per cent of Thales, again denied reports that it is on the brink of buying the stake.

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