Further uncertainty has entered into the foreign bidding for a stake in Compagnie Generale des Constructions Telephoniques, CGCT, with the news that the French government is to try to eliminate any taint of politics by putting the digital exchanges manufactured by four of the five confirmed bidders to a second round of testing. The work will have to be done quickly to meet the latest deadline set for a decision on the future of the company, April 30. The switches that will be subjected to the new round of testing will be the System 85 from AT&T-Philips, the EWSD from Siemens, the AXE from Ericsson, and the DMS 100 from Northern Telecom. The other contender, latecomer Italtel of Italy, is not deemed to have any switching technology worth testing a second time. Although foreign ownership in CGCT is limited to 20%, the supplier whose switch is chosen is expected to take management control of the company. According to the Financial Times, the Direction Generale de Telecommunications and the Industry Ministry favour the AT&T-Philips bid, but Siemens has the backing of the Finance Ministry and of some officials in the Prime Minister’s office.
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