NSN May Buy Other Nortel Assets

Nokia Networks may be focused on acquiring certain Nortel Networks Ltd. wireless assets just now, but it may bid for other parts of the distressed Canadian vendor, too, a senior NSN executive told a business gathering in Canada on Tuesday.

According to local media reports, including this one from Canada's Financial Post, NSN's North American president, Sue Spradley, told attendees at an Economic Club of Canada luncheon that acquiring Nortel's CDMA and LTE (Long Term Evolution) assets is her company's main focus right now. (See NSN Picks at Nortel's Mobile Bones .)

Spradley, a former Nortel executive, also said NSN is prepared for rival bids in the upcoming auction process, and that NSN is prepared to increase its initial $650 million offer to secure those wireless assets. (See Will Others Bid for Nortel's Wireless Assets? , How NSN Is Funding Its Nortel Bid, and NSN Appoints Spradley.)

And she noted that NSN might also be prepared to buy other parts of Nortel, as long as the price was right and the move fitted in with the German/Finnish joint venture's strategy. (See Nortel: It's All Up for Sale.)

NSN has previously been linked with a potential bid for Nortel's carrier VoIP technology. The other part of Nortel that could interest NSN is the Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN) division, which includes some advanced optical networking assets. (See Who's Waving Their Wad at Nortel’s MEN? and Who's Dialing In for Nortel's VoIP Assets? )

For NSN, and Nortel, the next few weeks will be critical. Any rival bids for Nortel's wireless assets must be submitted by Tuesday, July 21. The auction process takes place on Friday, July 24, and the bankruptcy court rules on the outcome on Tuesday, July 28.

The dilemma facing NSN is that, while it has made a standalone bid for Nortel's CDMA and LTE access assets, the auction process could potentially draw in other Nortel assets, if rival bidders decide to make broader, extended offers. That scenario could force NSN's hand.

And such a scenario is a possibility. Nortel bondholder MatlinPatterson Global Advisers is believed to be preparing a bid that could encompass all of Nortel's current assets, while other parties are believed to be preparing alternative offers. (See Nortel Bid Plot Thickens and Is Nortel Buyout in the Cards?)

A spokesman for NSN said the upcoming bidding and auction process is "complicated," and that NSN has "made it clear which assets we're interested in, but we'll have to wait and see what happens." He added that Spradley had commented on potential hypothetical outcomes of the process, and that NSN wasn't providing any further comment on the matter.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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