confirmed today that they held merger discussions, but the telecom equipment makers said the talks have ended with no deal.

In a brief press release, Lucent said the companies would have no further comment. The two companies have been the subject of merger rumors for several days. Published reports today indicated that France's Alcatel would offer around $23.5 billion for Lucent, which is based in Murray Hill, N.J.

Shares of both companies turned higher in after-hours


action. Lucent gained 3.5% to $8.61, and the American depositary shares of Alcatel traded higher by 7.6% to $29.50.