Although Nokia itself has not officially commented on the news yet, union sources and at least one government official have now come forward saying that the tech giant has plans to sell one of its network cable divisions. The undersea cable network division in question, which is still known as Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), was valued at around $870 million as of the last valuation and obtained by Nokia in 2016 as part of the company’s acquisition of Alcatel. No buyers have come forward yet and Nokia is not in any particular rush to be rid of the division, according to the sources, but the company also doesn’t consider ASN to be an integral part of its core business strategy. The sources continued to say that Nokia has been discussing the sale of the division informally with “state and relevant stakeholders, including the staff.”
Nokia’s been in the networking and mobile industries for a long time, so it stands to reason that they’d have built up assets that no longer suit the long-term goals of the company – or that were not important to the core business of the company from the outset. The company also seems to be returning a substantial amount of its effort to the mobile market with recent releases of its Nokia 3, 5, and Nokia 6 devices. However, it doesn’t seem as though any kind of deal or even the intention to sell will be announced anytime soon. In light of the French government’s stance on the undersea cable network, Nokia will likely choose to take its time to ensure a clean break from responsibility for the networks. ASN, having been previously owned by the French company to which it owes its namesake, is considered to be an important part of maintaining cyber-surveillance and security for the country – in addition to being a guarantee for connections with overseas territories and Africa.
Even though an undersea cable network doesn’t seem to line up with Nokia’s overall business goals and the possibility of a sale has reportedly been discussed informally, it’s important to remember that Nokia has not officially commented on this. It is also worth mentioning that although ASN is currently owned by Nokia and despite that it employs around 1,000 French and British workers and seven cable maintenance vessels, it is managed separately from Nokia. So it also doesn’t have much overall effect on Nokia’s business. ASN just seems to represent assets that the company reportedly feels it doesn’t need.