- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 21, 2009

TORONTO | Nortel Networks, once a technology giant, has decided to sell itself off in pieces rather than attempt to emerge from bankruptcy as a restructured company.

Nokia Siemens Networks agreed to buy some wireless operations of Canada’s Nortel Networks Corp. in a $650 million deal as the more than century-old Nortel announced it is looking for buyers for the rest of its assets.

The Finnish-German joint venture said Saturday it had agreed to buy the CDMA and LTE wireless technology assets of Nortel, a former telecommunications equipment powerhouse that sought bankruptcy protection in January and now plans to liquidate its business.

The deal is subject to court approval under an auction process in which other bidders could still make higher offers.

Nokia Siemens is looking to strengthen its position in North American markets.

Nortel, on the other hand, is winding down a company with a 127-year history in Canada and said it is in advanced talks to sell the rest of its operations.

Nortel Chief Executive Mike Zafirovski had hoped to restructure and preserve Nortel since seeking bankruptcy protection in Canada and the United States.

“This is not the path which we worked so hard to get to,” Mr. Zafirovski said in an interview.

“We’re in advanced discussions with anywhere from three to seven companies for each one of the assets. If we’re successful in getting the right value and the right integration planning and so on, then Nortel as an entity which we know it will no longer be here in the future.”

Mr. Zafirovski said the enterprise business, the optical Metro Internet business and the carrier voice over Internet protocol and application business as well as part of the wireless business are among the assets still up for sale.

Nortel said it would ask to have its shares delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Nortel employs more than 25,000 people around the world. During the 1990s telecom and Internet boom, Nortel had more than 95,000 employees. At one point in 2000 it accounted for one-third of the market value on the entire Toronto Stock Exchange.

Mr. Zafirovski spoke on a conference call with 2,500 Nortel managers on Saturday. They’ll be addressing employees on Monday morning.

Nokia Siemens Networks is a joint venture of Nokia Corp., the world’s top mobile phone maker, and German Siemens AG. It employs 60,000 people worldwide.

Under the deal, more than 2,500 Nortel employees, mostly in Canada and the United States, would be transferred to Nokia Siemens Networks. Canada’s government-owned export credit agency, Export Development Canada, would support the transaction with a $300 million loan commitment, Nokia Siemens said.

Nortel reported a first-quarter net loss this year of $507 million with revenue falling by 37 percent from 2008 to $1.7 billion.



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