RIM: Keep Nortel's LTE assets in Canadian hands

The Canadian House of Commons Industry Committee held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the auction process that ended with Ericsson successfully walking off with Nortel's CDMA and LTE assets for €790 million. The Canadian Deputy Minister of Investment proclaimed that his department would look into what he called an "apparent discrepancy" between the terms Ericsson was given and what Research in Motion was offered to buy Nortel Network's CDMA and LTE assets, according to Unstrung.

The meeting has so far involved testimony from Nortel, RIM and Ericsson and it appears that Ericsson and RIM may have been offered different terms for participating in the auction or they may have had different interpretations. RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis reiterated that the company was blocked from bidding on Nortel's assets because Nortel and its bankruptcy advisers told RIM that it could qualify to bid on Nortel's LTE assets only if it agreed not to submit offers for any other Nortel assets for one year. Ericsson Canada CEO Mark Hendersen, however, told the committee that Ericsson believed it wasn't barred from buying more of Nortel assets after purchasing Nortel's wireless assets.

Lazaridis also detailed how RIM and Nortel were close to a deal for Nortel's LTE know-how and patents before and after the company entered into bankruptcy. Nortel's LTE assets should stay in Canadian hands, Lazaridis argued.

According to Lazaridis, RIM wouldn't sign that standard non-disclosure agreement that Nortel wanted it to sign because it had already signed two different NDAs as part of earlier deal making. Signing a new NDA would have kept RIM from obtaining both the LTE assets and the IPR it wants because under the terms of the deal, it couldn't get both.

The committee also questioned Canada's Deputy Minister of Investment Richard Dicerni, who said his office will research the discrepancy between Ericsson's and RIM's accounts. He also pointed out that RIM made the decision not to participate in the auction, but then complained to the court overseeing the bankruptcy later.

"There were a couple of windows where RIM had the opportunity to challenge the process," Dicerni said.

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