MatlinPatterson assembles telecom advisers ahead of potential Nortel bid

MatlinPatterson has collected a team of telecom industry veterans to advise it ahead of a potential bid on bankrupt Nortel Networks.  The private equity firm is also seeking strategic partners for its rescue plan, which will counter Nokia Siemens Networks' $650 million bid for Nortel's wireless assets, according to the Financial Times.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with potential strategic partners to leverage Nortel's resources and leading LTE technology long into the future,” MatlinPatterson said in a statement.

As it prepares to enter into discussions with potential partners, the Nortel creditor has assembled a team of advisers led by Dion Joannou, the former president of Nortel's North America operations.

According to the FT report, which cited unnamed sources close to MatlinPatterson's plans, the advisory committee also includes Richard Burns, the former president of AT&T's wireless network; Richard Piasentin, a former Nortel vice president for sales; Tony Pirih, the former head of Nortel's R&D operations; and Chris Smith, the former executive vice president in charge of Alltel's network operations.   

MatlinPatterson was reaching out to bondholders and other investors in a bid to strengthen its potential counter-offer for Nortel's wireless assets. The firm hopes to convince Nortel and bankruptcy courts that Nortel can and should remain intact, rather than broken up and sold in parts. MatlinPatterson declined to identify which potential partners it was in discussions with, according to the report.

Nokia Siemens has the right to raise its bid if others are introduced, and has indicated it may do so. Bids are due July 21 and an auction is set for July 24. NSN has been dismissive of the idea that Nortel can be “saved” and remain intact.

“I more than anybody would like to save Nortel,” Sue Spradley, the North American chief of Nokia Siemens, said earlier this week. “But if it could have been saved, we all would have done that years ago.”