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Ericsson wins Nortel wireless auction

Alex Scroxton

Ericsson has won the auction for Nortel's CDMA and LTE Access business after bidding $1.13bn for the unit, trumping Nokia Siemens Networks, the presumptive buyer, at the last minute.

The winning bid is still subject to approval through the usual channels in the US and Canada, and faces a possible court challenge from a still-smarting Research in Motion, which alleges it was blocked from bidding for the unit. 

Ericsson, for its money, has pulled off a pretty smart move, picking up the second largest supplier of CDMA infrastructure in the world as well as massively boosting its footprint in the North American market, where LTE technology is being taken up with gusto. 

It has appointed its northern Europe head Magnus Mandersson as president of CDMA operations, while Nortel's president of carrier networks Richard Lowe will move across to become COO. 

The Swedish firm has also undertaken to preserve around 2,500 Nortel jobs; the bulk of these will be in the Canadian and US theatres. 

"This deal truly positions Ericsson as a leading telecoms supplier in North America," said president and CEO Carl-Henric Svanberg. 

In a statement, Nokia Siemens chief markets operations officer Bosco Novak insisted there were no hard feelings. 

"Our final offer for Nortel's assets represented a fair price and we did not enter this process with a win-at-any-cost mindset," he said. "Ours was an opportunistic bid aimed at supporting the great progress we've made in North America in the past 18 months, and we are very confident that momentum will continue to grow." 

Conspiracy theorists, meanwhile, have gone to town on Nokia Siemens Networks, suggesting that the firm's alleged sale of comms kit to the Iranian government may have cost it the auction, conveniently ignoring the fact that the Canadian government undertook to part-fund the bid.


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