The Big Score?

"What's an Alcatel?" that's the question investors across the U.S. might have been asking last week after it emerged that the comparatively low-profile French telecom-equipment giant was in merger talks with erstwhile Wall Street heartthrob Lucent Technologies.

It was only 18 months ago that Lucent was trading near $80 a share and was America's most widely held stock. Lately, the stock price has been hovering around $10, and the news of a possible Alcatel deal further depressed the stock price, inching it closer to the $9 mark. (In all, the company has lost an astonishing $200 billion in...

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