PARIS, May 23 -- Alcatel and French shipping firm Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) have joined forces in hopes of providing better service to Alcatel's customers. The joint company will own and operate two cable-laying ships recently ordered from Hyundai Mypo Dockyard. Alcatel will represent 51 percent of the new company and LDA will own 49 percent. The companies hope to have the two ships running by October of 2001. Options to build two more vessels set for delivery in February of 2002 have been negotiated with the Korean ship builder. Total investment in the venture is said to exceed $90 million (US). All four 135-m vessels will come equipped with dynamic positioning capabilities, allowing them to stay on course in the event of bad weather conditions. They will also come with an integrated cable handling suite, new-build plough and full jointing and testing facilities; making them ideal for burial operations.The joint company is currently under construction in France and will have the French status of Société Anonyme . Alcatel will act as general manager of the joint venture and LDA will manage the marine operations. The new company will initially employ about thirty people.