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Private equity firm bids for Nortel assets

NSN faces rival bid for the wireless assets of Nortel

Mergers and acquisitions, Telecoms, Wireless, Equity, Nortel Networks Corporation

MatlinPatterson, a New York based private equity firm, has submitted a $725 million bid for the wireless assets of beleaguered Canadian communications vendor Nortel.

The bid trumps the recent $650 million offer made by Nokia Siemens Networks, and if successful could encourage the private equity company to bid for other divisions of Nortel.

MatlinPatterson, which is already one of Nortel’s biggest stakeholders, said in a statement that it saw an opportunity to operate Nortel’s wireless assets, and potentially other divisions of the company, as “New Nortel”.

In an open letter to Nortel stakeholders, MatlinPatterson said it was “confident that the CDMA and LTE Access assets can emerge from bankruptcy as a reinvigorated, independent company.”

It added that as an existing investor it was unwilling to accept a “fire sale” of Nortel's core assets followed by the liquidation of the remaining businesses, and that it would “actively take steps to prevent” such an outcome.

While the wireless assets at the centre of the bidding process are mainly based in Canada and the US, with a small number in China and Mexico, a successful bid by Matlin Patterson could have repercussions further afield, including the Middle East, should the company decide to bid for Nortel’s enterprise solutions division.

The development from Matlin Patterson follows closely from a $475 million “stalking horse” bid by Avaya for Nortel’s enterprise solutions division, which has a significant presence in the Middle East, earlier this week.

Nortel, once one of the world’s leading network and communications companies, filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009.