Who is Bidding on Nortel?

According to the Wall Street Journal, there are a number of companies vying for pieces of Nortel. The LTE research and carrier groups may go to Nokia Siemens Networks or NSN if the JV between Nokia and Siemens has its way. NSN sends my editorial team news of a win a day from around the world but few of these are in the US. This acquisition would help cement the joint venture as a true global player with much more strength in North America.

Avaya and Siemens are bidding for the enterprise portions and either company is a natural fit. Avaya has a strong contact center business what would be helped by this deal and Siemens too would have natural synergies. In addition The Gores Group the private equity firm behind Siemens also owns SER – a once mighty predictive dialing company which has gone dead silent for a number of years. Silent or not SER has a huge installed base of contact center customers and there are synergies to be had as a merged entity. Gores also owns Sagem Communications, First Communications and Enterasys so it would seem Gores has a natural affinity for our space.

Remember also this acquisition comes with a strong Microsoft UC relationship. And that value will likely not carry much weight in an auction with limited participation and in these financial times.

Genband too is throwing its hat in the ring looking at Nortel’s digital switching and media gateway business. Genband has been pretty impressive in the market and is well-regarded – I am curious to see if they get what they are after and at the right price.

Apparently Cisco is not interested in any of the company’s assets and I am not too surprised. John Chambers generally does not like large acquisitions and he doesn’t like them when they are far away. Moreover I just can’t see them being able to acquire many of Nortel’s pieces due to antitrust concerns.

What is good for Nortel bondholders is the fact that there are a few companies interested in these disparate parts of the company. And there are likely more companies involved than we know about. This should mean the price tags won’t be atrocious. Of course one man’s cheap is another man’s expensive.

We’ll see what happens in the coming months.

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