Bid for Nortel's wireless assets gets interesting

It appears a bidding war has ensued for Nortel Networks' CDMA and LTE assets. Private equity firm--and Nortel creditor--MatlinPatterson has topped Nokia Siemens Network's $650 million stalking horse bid, submitting a $725 million bid for the assets.

Meanwhile, a controversy is brewing over the bidding process as fellow Canadian company Research In Motion claimed it was barred from making a bid for the same assets. RIM said it sought to become a qualified bidder in Nortel's auction bidding process but was told by Nortel and its advisors that it could bid on those assets only if it promised not to submit offers for other Nortel assets for up to one year after purchasing the wireless unit. RIM said it is prepared to pay in the range of $1.1 billion for the CDMA and LTE assets.

"In seeking to impose this condition, Nortel and its advisors were fully aware of RIM's desire to purchase other Nortel assets as part of a solution to retain key portions of Nortel's business under Canadian ownership," RIM said in a release. "Despite repeated efforts, Nortel, its advisors and its court-appointed monitor have rejected RIM's repeated attempts to engage in meaningful discussions. 

RIM said Nortel and its advisers were aware RIM wanted to buy other Nortel assets as part of a plan to keep key portions of Nortel under Canadian ownership. However, a Nortel spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that RIM refused to comply with court-approved procedures designed to protect against hostile bids and to ensure that Nortel or the courts have control over future asset sales.   

The deadline for bids has now expired and an auction is set for Friday in New York City. NSN's status as the stalking horse bidder gives the company the right to match any competing bids.

For more:
- see the WSJ (sub. req.)
- take a look at the AFP
- see this MatlinPatterson release

Related Articles:
RIM says its Nortel bid was blocked
MatlinPatterson assembles telecom advisers ahead of potential Nortel bid
Nokia Siemens may increase $650M offer for Nortel assets
FTC approves Nokia Siemens bid for Nortel
For Nortel, it's MatlinPatterson vs. Nokia Siemens