Alcatel upbeat about sales in Asia

French telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel may be closing down the bulk of its manufacturing plants in a restructuring plan, but it remains optimistic that demand in Asia will stay buoyant.

SINGAPORE--French telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel may be closing down the bulk of its manufacturing plants in a restructuring plan, but it remains optimistic that demand in Asia will stay buoyant.

While the region contributed just 7 percent of the company's sales last year, the figure is expected to increase by 50 percent this year. In five to six years, Alcatel predicts Asia will account for a third of its sales.

"It's a big market, it's a growing market and it's a market that takes well to innovation," Alcatel secretary general Jacques Dunogue told The Straits Times.

"And there are also a few more markets in Asia" that have not yet been tapped, he added.

Among the options the company is considering to expand into the region is to increase its 32 percent stake in the telco, Shanghai Bell, to a majority ownership.

Shanghai Bell is a joint venture between Alcatel and the Chinese government, which was started in 1983.

Alcatel may also set up its first Asian Optronics plant, to manufacture high-end components for terrestrial networks. It could cost between US$70 million (S$128 million) and US$100 million (S$183 million).

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