| Bush: Green signal
Washington, Nov. 18 (Reuters): President George W. Bush has approved a deal under which French telecommunication equipment maker Alcatel SA will acquire Lucent Technologies Inc in a $11.8-billion (£6.2 billion) deal, the White House said on Friday.
The move came despite some lawmakers’ concerns about safeguards for classified work that Lucent’s Bell Laboratories conducts for the US government. The companies have promised to create a separate unit run by Americans to handle sensitive US contracts.
“Alcatel and Lucent have agreed with US government agencies to enter into two robust and far-reaching agreements designed to ensure the protection of our national security,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said in a statement released in Hanoi, where Bush is attending an economic summit.
He said those agreements were a strict condition for the administration’s approval of the deal.
The combination would create one of the world’s biggest suppliers of network hardware and software for mobile and high-speed Internet communications, with $25 billion as annual revenue.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) spent 75 days investigating the national security implications of the transaction. The inter-agency panel recommended that Bush approves it and he acted before the statutory deadline on Tuesday.
Duncan Hunter, a California republican and the outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, had questioned whether the classified work Lucent did for the government could be adequately protected with the safeguards announced.
Hunter had sought more information after a lengthy briefing on Tuesday by senior executives from the two companies as well as the US Treasury Department and Pentagon officials. A spokesman for the lawmaker was not immediately available for comment.
Lucent’s government contracts include an advanced communications system for the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s technology incubator.