The Nortel restructuring continues to be what many observers consider the most interesting Canadian restructuring in recent memory. Most recently, it was an international battle for certain of the once Canadian icon's valued assets.
Sweden's Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson was the successful bidder at the auction for Nortel’s wireless network division with a bid of US $1.13 billion which was subsequently approved by the Courts in Ontario and Delaware. The auction is reported to have lasted for 13 hours and to have involved 6 rounds of bidding which ended at midnight. The sale now requires approval from regulators in Canada and the U.S. Ericsson’s bid comes after Research In Motion Ltd. made headlines by making a public offer of US $1.1 billion and then by subsequently announcing it was in discussions to acquire the division.
RIM opted not to make a formal bid under the bidding process, alleging that it had tried to buy Nortel assets but had been blocked by Nortel and by restrictive conditions such as agreeing not to bid for additional Nortel assets for a year. Nortel responded that RIM refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement, a requisite of the bidding process, and that RIM's public bid did not meet the bidding rules set by the bankruptcy courts in Canada and the US (including that RIM's initial bid was after the July 21st deadline). RIM had requested that the Canadian Government intervene to block the sale - on the basis of Canadian economic and national security considerations. Most recently, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan urged the Canadian Government to block the sale and joined Federal opposition parties calling for a review/block of the sale.
The successful Ericsson bid comes after an opening bid of US $650 million from Nokia Siemens Networks B.V. (a joint venture involving Finland's Nokia Corp. and Germany's Siemens AG), a US $725 million offer from MatlinPatterson Global Advisors LLC (a private equity fund which is a major Nortel creditor) and its own US $730 million opening bid.
In June of 2009, Nortel announced an auction for its carrier networks division. The valued division is Nortel's most profitable and includes Nortel's Long Term Evolution (LTE) high-speed wireless technology. LTE technology is poised to increase download speeds and allow cellphones to handle more services such as interactive television, video blogging and advanced gaming. Telecommunication players are racing to be the first to roll out LTE technology.