MatlinPatterson outbids NSN on Nortel wireless assets

MatlinPatterson, the private equity firm and Nortel Networks creditor, submitted a $725 million bid for Nortel's CDMA and LTE assets, topping the $650 million bid made last month by Nokia Siemens Networks. Meanwhile, details continued to emerge of Research In Motion's blocked attempt to make a play for those same Nortel assets, and a Canadian government official said that Nortel should reconsider RIM's bid.

All of this action unfolded as the deadline for bids for Nortel's assets expired, and ahead of an auction set for Friday in New York City. In announcing its rival bid, MatlinPatterson said it believed that Nortel's wireless operations could form the foundation of a stand-alone business with long-term viability. The company also said that it will try to acquire other Nortel assets, should they become available.

The bidding situation now is far more complex than it was last week. Because of Nokia Siemens' status as the "stalking horse" bidder, the company has the right to match any competing bids. However, the fate of RIM's $1.1 billion failed bid is still uncertain.

Canada's Minister of Industry Tony Clement said late yesterday that Nortel should reconsider RIM's bid, which RIM said it was blocked from making because Nortel and its bankruptcy advisers said RIM could bid only if it agreed not to submit offers for any other Nortel assets for one year.

"Obviously, while we cannot determine who will be the successful bidder, if there is a Canadian bid in this process I think that is advantageous for that bid to be at least considered," Clement said. "And so it would concern us if there are some procedural difficulties that a Canadian bid would be facing."

RIM said Nortel and its advisers were aware that 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.   

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this AFP article
- see this MatlinPatterson release

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For Nortel, it's MatlinPatterson vs. Nokia Siemens