Lucent, Ascend close to $16 billion merger

Networking and telecommunications giant Lucent Technologies is reportedly nearing a merger with its smaller rival, Alameda, California-based Ascend Communications, which is likely to be worth $US16 billion.

The announcement is expected by Wednesday, according to a report appearing in Monday's Financial Times.

Lucent, worth $152 billion would most likely take over Ascend, which has a market capitalisation of about $15.5 billion, said the report.

Pressure to form the deal may have been brought on by last year's buyout of Bay Networks by Northern Telecommunications, which resulted in the formation of Nortel Networks.

Ascend and Lucent have reportedly been talking for several weeks, according to the Financial Times report.

Lucent, which was spun off from AT&T Corp. in 1996, supplies equipment to telecommunications carriers. Ascend's business is mainly in enterprise networking, Internet protocol telephony and asynchronous transfer mode networking.

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