2009 Top Ten: Nortel Stories

If you can't guess the one story that dominated Light Reading's headlines throughout 2009, then you really weren't paying attention.

For a longer trip down memory lane, you can always read "The Decline & Fall of Nortel Networks," which (spoiler alert) ends with Nortel Networks Ltd. filing for bankruptcy and restructuring in January 2009. From there, here are our top 10 Nortel moments -- guided by (but not wholly determined by) readership numbers.

10. Genband Bids $282M for Nortel's VoIP Unit
Because this went down on Dec. 23, a lot of people either haven't noticed or haven't brought themselves to care. But it puts a fitting cap on what's been the Year of Nortel.

9. Nortel Disqualified From 2012 Olympics
And in steps Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) to fill the void. For the sake of national pride, it's worth noting that Nortel's still a participant in the 2010 winter games in Vancouver.

8. Ciena Beats NSN to Buy Nortel's MEN
It took 15 months, but the Metro Ethernet Networks division, along with that coveted 40-Gbit/s technology, landed in the hands of Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN). The deal will close in the coming weeks, and we'll see whether Gary Smith and crew have made the right bet.

7. Ericsson Delivers Knockout Blow to NSN
The highest-ranking of the auction results stories was the first one. Early Saturday morning, Nokia Networks capitulated, and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) walked away with Nortel's wireless assets.

6. Nortel M&A Rumor Update
Actually, this was a EuroBlog entry, published just before Nortel's restructuring was announced. It recounted a rumor that inserted Radware Ltd. (Nasdaq: RDWR) into the acquisition frenzy -- a rumor that proved partially true, as the Israeli company bought and revived the Alteon brand. (See Nortel to Offload Data Gear to Radware and Radware's New Superhero.)

5. Nortel Loses Billions & Plans Bonuses
Channeling The Office (U.K. version), after the Slough branch hears they're being shut down: "On a more positive note, the good news is I've been promoted, so... every cloud..."

4. It's All Up for Sale
As the first of the stalking-horse bids emerged (it was Nokia Siemens, bidding for the wireless division, you'll recall), Nortel admitted: Every division, every piece, was being offered up. This still left a chance that "Nortel" could emerge from the restructuring, but the announcement all but guaranteed that it wouldn't be the same Nortel.

3. Should Nortel Be Sold for Parts?
Before that last story broke, it wasn't clear whether Nortel might have a shot at restructuring as a single entity. We asked analysts to weigh the pros and cons.

2. Who's Waving Their Wad at Nortel's MEN?
The question of who would acquire the Metro Ethernet Networks group was open for most of the year. In June, when word came down that there were nine possible bidders, we asked ourselves: Are there even nine optical companies left?

1. Nortel Files for Bankruptcy Protection
The news that started it all.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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