Thales to buy Alcatel satellites for $2.14 bn

April 5 | Updated: Apr 6 2006, 05:30am hrs
Thales SA, Europes largest military electronics maker, agreed to buy Alcatel SAs satellite operations for 1.74 billion euros ($2.14 billion) in stock and cash, quickening the pace of Frances defense consolidation.

Alcatel, which bought the USs Lucent Technologies Inc on April 2 for $13.4 billion, will more than double its Thales stake to 21.6%, the Paris-based companies said in e-mailed statements. Alcatel builds satellites that enable communications in the French military. The French state wanted to move assets of sovereignty and national importance out of the Alcatel-Lucent merger, said Agnes Blazy, an analyst at CM-CIC Securities, in Paris.

The French government, which will remain Thaless largest shareholder with 27.1%, is engineering a reorganisation of military assets to create companies that can take on US defense giants such as Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp. Thales agreed last year to buy 25% of French state-owned DCN, Europes biggest builder of warships.

Alcatel shares fell 2 cents to 13.05 euros. Thales shares fell as much as 1.54 euros, or 4.13%, to 35.76 euros in Paris because its no longer a takeover target, Ms Blazy said. The market had been expecting a global offer, she said. Shifting Alcatels satellite assets to Thales lets France protect military secrets from the US, mirroring a similar move by Lucent.