China state visit to France: Alcatel in billion-dollar deal

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Franco-American telecoms giant Alcatel-Lucent scooped the first deal of what was expected to be a lucrative Chinese state visit to France on Thursday, announcing a billion dollars in contracts.

Chinese President Hu Jintao was due to arrive in France later in the day at the start of a visit that French officials hope will lead to tens of billions of euros in contracts for France's high-technology sector.

In the first breakthrough of the day, Alcatel said it was to sign supply deals with three Chinese operators -- China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom -- worth a total of 1.1 billion dollars (770 million euros).

An aide to President Nicolas Sarkozy's has said the deals, to be done during Hu's three-day visit, will be "will be far greater than during any previous visit by European leaders to Beijing or by Chinese leaders abroad."

He did not put a figure on this, but deals are in the offing in the nuclear, aviation and energy sectors. During Sarkozy's first state visit to China in November 2007, French companies signed contracts worth 20 billion euros.

"China is a country with powerful growth," said Alcatel director Ben Verwaayen, announcing the deals to supply network routing equipment and broadband mobile telecoms to Chinese consumers.

Alcatel-Lucent has been in the Chinese market since 1984, through its local subsidiary Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell.

© 2010 AFP

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