Lucent One.Tel network sale seen tough task -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- By Simone Deane MELBOURNE, June 14 (Reuters) - Lucent Technologies Inc isunlikely to get much of a return on the sale of a mobilenetwork it built for failed Australian telecoms group One.TelLtd in a market short on cash, analysts said onThursday. An executive from the U.S. telecoms equipment giant said inHong Kong on Wednesday that the group expected to get "goodvalue" for the network. "And pigs might fly," said independent telecoms analystPaul Budde. Budde said that even though the equipment was first classhe expected it to go at a bargain rate, A$200 million (US$106million) to A$300 million at best, even if Lucent boughtOne.Tel's spectrum rights to accompany the network from theadministrator. The 2.5 generation-capable network Lucent was building forOne.Tel was to cost more than A$1 billion but construction wasnot complete when One.Tel was put into administration in lateMay. Lucent, One.Tel's largest secured creditor, had submitted aA$1.28 billion claim, including more than A$600 million fornetwork construction, according to One.Tel's administrator. Analysts said there were not a single clear candidate thatwould have a lot to gain by picking up the unfinished network. "It's hard to see who the buyer will be given that theexisting players are fairly well focused and the equity outthere is not really available for someone to come in and say'hey this is a good new opportunity'," said Peter McIver,telecommunications partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. NEW ENTRANTS UNLIKELY New entrants were considered unlikely as, with telecomsstocks out of favour, it was hard to raise money, while thefailure of the News Corp Ltd and Publishing &Broadcasting Ltd backed One.Tel has raised doubts thatthe Australian market could support another player. Australia's biggest mobile players, Telstra Corp Ltd, Cable & Wireless Optus Ltd and VodafonePacific, a unit of Vodafone Group Plc , already have thenetwork infrastructure they need, analysts said. There was speculation that smaller player HutchisonTelecommunications Australia Ltd could be interestedin buying the network but analysts said that move was notlogical, particularly given its alliance with Telecom Corp ofNew Zealand Ltd . Telecom and Hutchison Australia and its parent companyHutchison Whampoa Ltd <0013.HK> signed a strategic alliance tojointly provide 3G mobile services in Australia and NewZealand. This deal also made it unlikely Telecom would be a bidder,analysts said. Budde said there was a chance that resellers, such asPrimus Telecommunications Group Inc's Australian unit,may consider purchasing the network if it was cheap enough andit appeared to be a better option than continuing to paywholesale fees. REUTERSRtr 00:27 06-14-01
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