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Alcatel to sell corporate telephony unit: unions

The logo of the telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent is seen on the company site building in Rennes, western France, October 15, 2013. REU
The logo of the telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent is seen on the company site building in Rennes, western France, October 15, 2013. REU

PARIS (Reuters) - Loss-making French telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent has decided to sell its unit that supplies telephone systems to big companies, the CFDT union said on Thursday.

Several sources told Reuters last month that Alcatel was considering a sale of the corporate telephony unit - which employs 2,800 people including 1,400 in France - as part of its "Shift" plan, which includes 10,000 job cuts, 1 billion euros cost savings and 1 billion of asset sales.

Chief Executive Michel Combes is aiming to revive a firm that has struggled against low-cost Asian competitors as well as larger rivals Ericsson and Nokia since its creation in 2006.

"Mr Combes wants to sell this unit by July 1, 2014," Alcatel-Lucent union CFDT said in a statement.

The union said that several scenarios are under review, including a sale to an investment fund or to a Chinese investor. One or more industrial players could also be potential buyers, the union added.

A company spokesman declined to comment.

The corporate telephony business is what was left of Alcatel's enterprise business, after selling call center unit Genesys to private equity fund Permira last year for $1.5 billion. It had tried to sell the business with Genesys last year, but found no takers.

Combes' strategy is to streamline Alcatel-Lucent to focus on IP networking products, which help telecom operators carry mobile data traffic, and high-speed mobile and fixed broadband.

(Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic, writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)