PARIS (The Deal) -- France's Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) said Thursday it has received a binding offer from China Huaxin for 85% of its Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise unit. The offer values the maker of phone systems and other business equipment at 268 million euros ($362 million) including debt.
The sale, which is due to be signed off during the second quarter, would be the second disposal overseen by CEO Michel Combes since his arrival a year ago and his promise in June to sell 1 billion euros of assets by the end of 2015.
Combes promised the sales, and a 1 billion euros reduction in costs, as part of a turnaround plan, dubbed the "Shift Plan", which is the latest in a series of efforts to reverse the flagging fortunes of a business created in 2006 through the $13.4 billion merger of Altacel SA and Lucent Technologies. That deal was meant to create a technology giant with the muscle to compete across a wide range of markets but instead left the company too thinly spread and with too many low-margin, high-cost operations in declining markets.
The first signs that Combes might be succeeding where a series of predecessors failed was apparent Thursday, when the company reported fourth-quarter net profit of 134 million euros, ending an almost two-year losing streak that has cost it about 3.5 billion. Alcatel-Lucent posted a net loss of 1.29 billion euros for 2013, an improvement on its previous year loss of 2.09 billion euros.
"The Shift Plan is already deeply altering the company," Combes told a conference call Thursday. "The growth of our gross margin is robust and sustainable."