Nokia Siemens CEO Suri confirms desire to sell BSS unit

BSS sale would be part of restructuring designed to save $1.3B
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Nokia Siemens Networks CEO Rajeev Suri confirmed that vendor is in talks with various companies to sell its business support systems (BSS) unit as part of its restructuring.

Both Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported that Suri told reporters in Bangalore, India, that the company is exploring the BSS sale, and the Journal also noted that Suri said NSN is looking to sell its application business. "I would say overall we have about six divestments that already took place," Suri said, according to Reuters. "They're either not core to our mobile broadband or we see that the profitability is not where we want it to be."

The BSS unit could attract up to $377 million, Bloomberg reported late month, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter. Potential buyers include Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Amdocs and private-equity firms, the report said.

Suri said he expects overall carrier spending to be flat in 2012, but that Nokia Siemens sees "some rebound" in investments from U.S. customers in the second half of 2012. NSN and Ericsson were chosen in May by T-Mobile USA to upgrade the carrier's network and help it deploy LTE next year.

Nokia Siemens is undergoing a major restructuring to focus on mobile broadband and plans to slash up to 17,000 jobs--23 percent of the company's workforce--by the end of 2013 to save $1.3 billion. Suri said the company is about six months ahead of its restructuring plans, which were announced in November 2011. "We've taken out significant amount of headcount already, we're on track in the business line divestiture as well," he said. "As I said, we have a couple more (divestments) to go, but we're on track there as well."

As part of its restructuring, NSN sold its microwave transport business to DragonWave, its fixed line broadband access business to Adtran and its WiMAX business to NewNet Communication Technologies.

Separately, a top Nokia Siemens executive said that the company is going to use its restructuring and its recent contract wins to try and nab Huawei's No. 2 spot among network infrastructure vendors next year. Ken Wirth, NSN's head of customer operations for the Americas and an executive board member, told Reuters that NSN now has 64 LTE contracts in hand. "Those contracts we've signed will start to ramp up." he said. " We'll see share growth."

According to the research firm the Dell'Oro Group, Ericsson has a 35.5 percent  market share in the second quarter, followed by  Huawei at 22.3 percent, NSN at 18.1 percent and Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ: ALU) at 14 percent.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this separate Reuters article

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