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Collapse in sales widens net loss at Alcatel-Lucent in Q1

ALCATEL-LUCENT'S net loss widened in the first quarter as sales of both wireless and wireline communications gear continued to fall in all major global markets amid the economic downturn.

The world's third-largest supplier of wireless networking gear for telecommunications operators and companies blamed tough market conditions and continued restructuring for the shortfall - its ninth consecutive quarterly loss since Alcatel-Lucent was created in 2006.

The Paris-based company reported a net loss for the January to March quarter of 402 million euros (US$531.56 million), compared to a 181-million-euro loss a year earlier, it said yesterday.

The company has now piled up around 9 billion euros in losses over the last nine quarters.

The company doesn't expect to make a full-year profit until 2011, five years after Alcatel SA's purchase of Murry Hill, New Jersey-based Lucent Technologies Inc for US$11.4 billion in 2006.

Sales decline

Sales fell 6.9 percent in the first quarter to 3.6 billion euros, following a steep drop in sales of wireless equipment to North American operators.

In a statement, the company said it still expects the global market for telecom equipment and services to contract between 8 and 12 percent this year compared to 2008. That's in line with the forecast made last week by rival Nokia Siemens Networks.

The Finland-based joint venture between Nokia and Germany's Siemens AG said it expects demand for network infrastructure to fall 10 percent, twice the earlier forecast of a 5 percent contraction.

Speaking in conference call with reporters, Alcatel-Lucent Chief Executive Ben Verwaayen called 2009 a "transition year" in which "we want to build the foundations so that next year there will be much better results."

The firm has engaged in successive restructuring since the merger, with its current plan calling for the cutting by the end of this year of 16,500 jobs out of a total workforce of 76,410 at the end of 2007.



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