The "for sale" sign has gone up on Nokia Siemens Networks' (NYSE: NOK) business support systems division as the Finnish company follows an increasingly wireless-focused business strategy. Meanwhile, a little farther south in Europe, media and telecom giant Vivendi (Paris: VIV.PA) is exploring options that could include selling off or revamping assets that include its Brazilian GVT and Marco Telecom business units.
Nokia's move, which is expected to bring in as much as $377 million, had been predicted as the vendor sheds non-wireless businesses. Bidders for the BSS unit include Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC), Amdocs (NYSE: DOX) and private equity firms, sources and media reports claim. In the past year, NSN sold its WiMAX business to NewNet Communications, its microwave transport unit to DragonWave and its fixed line broadband access business to ADTRAN (Nasdaq: ADTN).
Ericsson is a particularly interesting candidate for the BSS business. While the Swedish firm has sold its fiber access business to Calix (NYSE: CALX), it's prominently mentioned as a suitor for Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Motorola Home cable TV equipment business unit. The NSN interest, a published report said, "could be connected to its approach to become the leader in the OSS/BSS market where it was recently ranked second by Gartner. To bolster that position, Ericsson spent $1.15 billion to acquire Telcordia in January of this year.
Vivendi's position is a bit more complex, but still involves its fixed wireline telecom assets. Speculation has abounded that the multi-faceted French company would break up its assets but the company's finance director, Philippe Capron, shot down that notion during a second quarter earnings call.
The French company, which is losing money because of an ongoing mobile price war, has authorized bankers to see how it can draw money from non-telco assets like Activision (Nasdaq: ATVI) along with GVT and Maroc. It is not, at least for now, in the position to pursue a full break-up, Caron said, calling that "not something that we can contemplate for the time being."
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