Julian Moxon/PARIS

Alcatel president Serge Tchuruk has struck a double deal with the French Government allowing the company to increase its stake in Thomson-CSF while reducing its interests in the Framatome nuclear power company.

The move, which involves no cash, brings Alcatel's share in Thomson-CSF to around 25% and will, says Tchuruk, enable the company to have a greater say in decisions on the future of the defence electronics manufacturer as it seeks alliances in Europe and the USA. The Dassault Group holds a 6% share, bringing the privately owned element of Thomson-CSF to more than 30%.

Paris retains the largest share, however, with its stake reduced from 40% to around 34%, and continues to argue that Thomson-CSF's defence interests make it of strategic importance. A 2.5% share in the business is controlled by employees, with 32.5% floated on the stock exchange.

Finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn says that despite the sizeable government holding, there is "no taboo" on Thomson-CSF seeking US alliances, although "we would prefer a European solution because our wish is to see the European industry restructured."

Tchuruk adds that alliances entered into by Thomson-CSF must be "without prejudice, and based entirely on their industrial benefits". Responding to union criticism that there are few synergies between the two companies, he says Alcatel's previous level of participation in Thomson-CSF" prevented their full exploitation". He points to opportunities presented by an agreement between the pair providing for "total access to each other's technology base", and a joint annual research and development spend totalling Fr24 billion ($ 4 billion).

Source: Flight International