Alcatel-Lucent has agreed to sell call centre software subsidiary Genesys to venture capital fund Permira for $US1.5 billion ($A1.46 billion); the same price it paid for the company more than 11 years ago.
The binding agreement follows months of negotiations and years of rumours around the sale of either the entire Enterprise business unit or solely Genesys.
HP, Cisco and Siemens all briefly appeared as possible buyers during negotiations, according to reports.
The purchase marks a departure for Permira, which has traditionally garnered a portfolio of consumer fashion brands including Hugo Boss, as well as some financial services and broadcasting acquisitions. It claims to have €20 billion ($A26 billion) in consolidated capital.
It is believed a final sale to the firm hinged on Permira and "certain co-investors" only purchasing the Genesys division, which deals in call centre software, rather than the entire Enterprise unit, which also includes switching and IP telephony hardware.
Sources told iTnews that Permira had offered to buy the entire unit for less than the final sale figure for Genesys, to account for potential demerger issues including dealings with French unions over worker movements.
However, the sale comes at a loss to the French telecommunications giant, which purchased Genesys in September 1999 for $US1.5 billion, before its merger with US-based Lucent, based on an average stock price of $US28 per share.
Based on inflation tracked over 12 years by the US Federal Reserve, the selling price comes as $US530 million less than it paid for the company.
Genesys accounted for sales of approximately $US500 million during 2010 and accounts for approximately 1800 staff around the world.
Though Alcatel-Lucent is headquartered in Paris, many Genesys managers and much of the negotiation process took place in the US, where the subsidiary operates a San Francisco-based office.
In Australia, the call centre software arm accounts for significant market share in call centre seats, with its largest customers including Telstra, Vodafone Hutchison Australia, the Australian Tax Office and separate call centre contracts for Human Services agencies Centrelink and Child Support Services.
It is believed Australian staff were told of the sale on Tuesday but final accounting of which Enterprise staff will be demerged from Alcatel-Lucent is yet to take place.
The sale must first undergo regulatory approval in both the US and Europe to allow the sale to go ahead, with a final sale expected for completion by early next year.
Despite the sale, Alcatel-Lucent's telecommunications and enterprise divisions would likely continue reselling Genesys' product suite.
"Our chosen direction is to leverage the natural connections that exist between enterprise and carrier customers, and proactively apply Enterprise's strengths and momentum in unified communications and data networking with them," Alcatel-Lucent chief executive Ben Verwaayen said.
Update: This story initially maintained Alcatel-Lucent had made a loss of $US530 million in selling Genesys after 11 years. Alcatel-Lucent disputes iTnews' methodology in coming to this claim.
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