Lucent Pondering Sale of Fiber-Optic Unit


Lucent Technologies Inc., struggling with losses and heavy debt, said it is considering the sale of its fiber-optic cable unit.

Analysts said Lucent could fetch $4 billion to $8 billion for the unit, although given the weakness in fiber-optic stocks the lower figure is more likely.

Lucent, the world's biggest maker of telecommunications equipment, said forming a joint venture with another company for the Optical Fiber Solutions unit is another option.

The Atlanta-based division posted sales of nearly $2 billion and operating income growth of more than 200% in fiscal 2000. It employs 6,300 people. The sale of all or part of the division would free Lucent from a capital-intensive business and generate much-needed cash to help pay down debt, analysts and portfolio managers said.

A spinoff, much like the one soon planned for Lucent's optical components unit Agere Systems Inc., could be an option, but a sale or joint venture is preferred, a spokeswoman said. She said no timetable has been set for the unit's disposition. Lucent's stock lost 23 cents to close at $11.02 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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