Nortel: Think Big

11:00 AM -- The auction of Nortel Networks Ltd. wireless assets to Nokia Networks got a little more complicated. It's now going to be valid to bid for all Nortel assets, if anyone wants to.

In other words, according to an Ottawa Citizen story today, you don't have to show up just bidding for the CDMA and Long Term Evolution (LTE) pieces NSN wants. (See Nortel: It's All Up for Sale, NSN Picks at Nortel's Mobile Bones , How NSN Is Funding Its Nortel Bid, and Nortel's LTE Patent Goldmine.)

The change, made by U.S. bankruptcy court judge Kevin Gross, apparently came in response to MatlinPatterson Global Advisors's interest in Nortel. The private equity firm, which holds $400 million in Nortel bonds, thinks Nortel can survive whole and wants to run the company through a proper Chapter 11 restructuring.

Matlin requested, but didn't get, an extension to the NSN bidding period. It's got until July 21 to put in its bid. The auction is set to happen Friday, July 24.

An all-Nortel bid might not be the best outcome for the employees who are left. I'm not familiar with MatlinPatterson, but private equity firms in general are famous for stripping companies down. With the NSN deal, at least 2,500 employees keep their jobs -- and more could be kept, depending on who buys the other assets.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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