Nortel Networks' CDMA and LTE Access wireless assets were on the auction block Friday as three big names fight to take control of the former telecom giant's wireless crown jewels.
Toronto-based Nortel on Friday started the court-ordered auction of its assets as it navigates through Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in January after years of missteps and slumping revenues. The closed-door auction was expected to last several hours.
So far, a trio of tech powerhouses has shown interest in Nortel's CDMA and LTE Access businesses, which enable carriers to build wireless networks.
Nokia Siemens Networks was first to the table, opening the bidding at $650 million, starting the "stalking horse" auction.
Earlier this week, private equity firm Matlin Patterson, which owns about 10 percent of Nortel's current debt, entered the fray with a bid of $725 million.
And on Friday, Swedish telecom giant Ericsson confirmed that it has thrown its name into the hat to possibly be the next owner of Nortel's carrier wireless properties.
An Ericsson spokeswoman on Friday would not reveal the amount the Stockholm-based company was prepared to pay for the Nortel assets, but said it will only pursue the deal for a reasonable price.
"It would certainly add value for Ericsson," said Kathy Egan, Ericsson's vice president of communications for the Americas. "We're always looking for ways to create value."
While Ericsson wouldn't specify its bid amount, Canada's Globe and Mail reported on its Web site that Ericsson submitted a bid for $730 million, citing people familiar with the court-supervised bidding process.
Egan said Ericsson would have more information when the auction closes.
Bids were due by Tuesday as part of the bankruptcy court process.
Along with Nokia Siemens, Matlin Patterson and Ericsson, BlackBerry-maker and fellow Canadian business Research In Motion (RIM) Ltd. has expressed interest in Nortel's CDMA and LTE Access businesses. RIM claims that Nortel is preventing it from entering a bid. RIM said it was willing to offer up to $1.1 billion for Nortel's carrier wireless assets and other unspecified businesses, but that Nortel would not allow it to make offers on other divisions if it went after the wireless assets.
The auction for Nortel's CDMA and LTE Access divisions is the first round as Nortel looks to unload many of its businesses. Earlier this week, Avaya started the bidding for Nortel's Enterprise Solutions business with an offer of $475 million. A similar auction for Nortel's enterprise unit is expected soon and the bidding process is open for another 45 days.