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Lucent Sells Unit, Signs Reseller Deal

Excel Switching a network equipment maker bought by Lucent Technologies for $1.7 billion in stock during its 1999 buying binge, is independent again.

Lucent has sold Excel to a group of investors led by Soros Private Equity Investors and Oak Investment Partners for an undisclosed sum.

The two companies, however, will not completely sever ties. Lucent will continue to offer Excel's family of converged services platforms for wireline and wireless networks.

For Lucent, the deal allows it to "concentrate its investments on the critical parts of its portfolio going forward, while continuing tomarket Excel-based solutions," said Ron Delange, a Lucent vice president.

To match competitors Cisco, Corning and Nortel, Lucent used its high stock price in 1999 and early 2000 to acquire new technologies. That resulted in a Bay State buying spree. In addition to Excel, it bought as Spring Tide Networks of Maynard and Kenan Systems of Cambridge.

Since then, the Murray Hill, N.J., company has scaled back and is outsourcing to lower costs.

Excel will operate out of its Hyannis, Mass., headquarters and employ about 150 people. It will be privately held and led by CEO Marc J. Zionts, who formerly held top spots with Airslide Systems and Westell.

Other members of the executive team include president J.C. Murphy, the former vice president and general manager under Lucent, and CFO Bruce Albelda, who held the same post with Airslide.

"With a sharper focus on our products and the needs of our customers and partners, combined with Lucent as one of our strategic sales channels, we are confident we have the global reach and financial backing to fully service and support our new andexisting customers," Murphy said.

Excel products help service providers offer unified communications, operator services, conferencing and short message service, among other options.