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Equant, France Telecom Unit to Merge

France Telecom's (FTE) Global One unit will merge with Equant (ENT) in a cash and stock deal, the companies said Monday.

The deal calls for Dutch-based Equant to exchange 80.6 million newly issued shares for Global One's data services business and $300 million in cash. Also, France Telecom will exchange some of its existing shares for SITA Foundation's 34% stake in Equant. The SITA Foundation, Equant's leading shareholder, provides telecommunications and information systems for the world's airline industry.

Terms have SITA marketing the services of Equant and Global One to the air transport community. France Telecom will invest $1 billion in cash in the merged companies in exchange for 10 million new Equant convertible preferred shares.

France Telecom held talks with Equant earlier this year, but nothing came of it. The French operator said in October it was still interested in Equant, but would not carry out a deal until its shares hit levels seen at the start of September. Friday, the stock closed at $91. On Sept. 1, the stock closed at $131. It had a rough two months and in the middle of October hit a low of $82.19.

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