Swedish telecoms equipment giant Ericsson and France’s Alcatel are neck and neck in the final stage of a contest to buy Marconi, according to sources close to both companies.
Final bids for Marconi are due tomorrow morning and a winner could be announced as early as the afternoon.
Britain’s last remaining telecoms equipment maker has said it is considering all strategic options after its future was thrown into turmoil in April this year when it lost a much-expected network upgrade contract from its largest customer, BT Group.
In August Marconi confirmed it was in takeover talks and Ericsson quickly emerged as a frontrunner for the business. Marconi has never officially named its suitors but Alcatel is understood to have joined the race in September.
Chinese telecoms equipment vendor Huawei Technologies, with which Marconi already has an agreement to sell the other’s products, was long considered the frontrunner to buy the company but is thought to have lost out to the other European bidders.
Weekend reports also said Britain’s pensions regulator had ruled that the deficit in Marconi’s British pension fund was four times the £109m shown in its accounts and had ordered that the successful bidder must provide a legally binding covenant to meet that deficit. It remains unclear what impact the £400m pension deficit would have on Marconi’s final takeover price.