Congress sets Alcatel-Lucent hearings

Companies to go in front of U.S. House Armed Services Committee next Tuesday

Another hurdle has cropped up for the merger of Alcatel SA and Lucent Technologies Inc. as the U.S. House Armed Services Committee has set a hearing on the national security implications of the deal.

The hearing will take place next Tuesday in Washington, according to the committee's Web site. The list of witnesses has not yet been announced. Both companies said Friday they have heard from the committee and are reviewing the requests.

The planned merger, announced in April, would bring together two of the world's largest telecommunications equipment vendors in a company based in Paris but straddling the Atlantic. Lucent is based in Murray Hill, New Jersey, and grew out of the former AT&T Corp.'s Bell Labs.

The deal has been approved by the shareholders of both companies, as well as by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission. The only body that hasn't signed off on it is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., an inter-agency panel led by the Secretary of the Treasury.

To dispel national security worries, Lucent has already agreed to form a subsidiary run by U.S. citizens to perform sensitive research and development work for the government. Meanwhile, Alcatel has agreed to sell its satellite business to allay similar concerns in France.

Earlier this year, the proposed acquisition of operations at several U.S. ports by London-based Dubai Ports World created a political firestorm fueled by concerns over national security.

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