Citic Pacific is to buy equipment worth more than US$80 million from United States-based Lucent Technologies for use in its 32,000-kilometre optic fibre network in the mainland. 'The signing of this contract markes another milestone in our long-term strategic to position ourselves at the forefront of the future communications market in China,' Citic chairman Larry Yung Chi-kin said. The equipment would enable the nationwide network to operate optical-transmission technology, Mr Yung said. The network, which will cover 23 provinces and municipalities, was expected to start contributing to profit next year. About 20,000 km of the network had been built and was expected to be operational in the third quarter of this year, Mr Yung said. The purchase of the equipment from Lucent was the start of co-operation between the companies, he said. He said Citic's parent, China International Trust and Investment Corp (Citic Beijing) had signed an agreement with Lucent to develop CDMA (code division multiple access) network in mainland. He did not elaborate. Citic Pacific has a 60 per cent stake in a joint venture to buy the optical fibre network for two billion yuan (about HK$1.86 billion). Mr Yung said the US$80 million, which was on top of the two billion yuan purchase price, would be split between the joint venture partners. Citic Beijing is also a partner of the 32,000 kilometre fibre network, with a holding of 20 per cent. Mr Yung himself owns a 20 per cent stake in the project. Mr Yung said the group had HK$16 billion cash on hand and it would have no difficulties in funding. Harry Bosco, group president of Lucent Technologies' optical network group, said it would supply Citic Pacific with the most advanced optical networking equipmemt.