Nortel deal speculation heats up

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Recent reports had Nortel Networks seeking financial advice with the possibility that it might consider filing for bankruptcy (Is that tentative enough for you?). Amid those reports, there wasn't much about Nortel's plan, announced in September, to sell its Metro Ethernet division. Now, Canada's Globe and Mail reports that at least three buyers may be bidding on the Ethernet group, and also that Nortel may be more likely to put off bankruptcy.

The Globe and Mail states that Nortel is entertaining bids for the Ethernet unit from "at least three serious bidders," while adding that analysts are suggesting that Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson, Huawei Technologies and Cisco Systems, are the companies most likely to want to acquire the unit. Yes, that's four companies, not three, and there's a lot of other speculation here, too. While we're spreading it, Light Reading also reports that Huawei is believed to be shopping for office space (not the movie, sadly) in Nortel's backyard.

In any case, either Cisco or Huawei would making an intriguing buyer for the unit, with the former potentially adding a new dimension to its service provider market efforts, and the latter potentially adding a new dimension its North America market efforts. NSN or Ericsson would be more predictable buyers, though we certainly don't intend that as a negative comment. It is also still not clear how much cash the unit might fetch for Nortel, but it probably will be considerably less than the $800 million to $1 billion some observers suggested a few months ago.

The Globe and Mail story also proposed that Nortel could decide to sell a larger chunk of the company, its Carrier Networks unit. That would be a pretty shocking move, at least in our little sector of the world, where Nortel remains a legendary brand name.

For more:
- The Globe and Mail has this report
- Light Reading follows the real estate market

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Nortel reportedly sought advice related to bankruptcy
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Nortel has been looking to sell its Metro Ethernet unit