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Ericsson Kickstarts Nortel Integration Plans

In her new role as head of Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s CDMA Mobile Systems unit, Rima Qureshi has taken on the job of integrating the wireless businesses the Swedish vendor acquired from Nortel Networks Ltd. -- and she wants it all done by the end of this year. (See New Names Join Ericsson's Top Team.)

In an interview with Unstrung, Qureshi explained she will be responsible not only for the CDMA business (2,500 employees) that Ericsson acquired from Nortel for $1.13 billion in July last year, but also for Nortel's North American GSM assets (about 350 employees) that Ericsson is in the process of buying for $70 million.

So, "we'll have to do something about the name" of the business unit, she quipped. (See Nortel Wireless Winner: It's Ericsson! and Ericsson Buys Nortel's GSM Biz Too.)

With the GSM acquisition expected to close at the end of this quarter, Qureshi says she aims to have the integration of both the CDMA and GSM businesses completed by the end of this year.

Qureshi says she will work on "ensuring everyone in Nortel is part of the larger Ericsson family. With all the turmoil they've been through… [the goal is] to get employees focused, not on what's happening around them, but on customer requirements."

Given that Ericsson is due to report its full year 2009 results on January 25, Qureshi was unable to provide any detail on the outlook for the CDMA and GSM businesses, or on potential shifts in carrier spending for the legacy technologies.

But she'll seek to extend the legacy businesses by "looking at new opportunities in Ericsson's portfolio," such as the Global Services business, or the IP networking products.

For Ericsson, the Nortel acquisitions "cement our relationships with key customers in North America… and strengthen our position overall in North America," she explained. She also noted that Ericsson is now the No. 2 global CDMA supplier behind Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). Key U.S. customer accounts include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), T-Mobile US Inc. , and Verizon Wireless . (See Ericsson Claims Dominance in North America and Ericsson: Why We Want Nortel's Wireless.)

So, as custodian of those new assets, her job is to "maintain" and "expand" the customer base.

On the technology side, she said Ericsson will continue to invest in CDMA research and development, including CDMA2000 EV-DO Rev. B technology. "We're developing CDMA Rev.B technology, and we'll definitely have customers for CDMA Rev. B."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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