Bloomberg News

Nortel Delays Auction to June 27 on ‘Significant’ Interest

June 16, 2011

(Updates with new date of auction in second paragraph.)

June 16 (Bloomberg) -- Nortel Networks Corp., the bankrupt phone-equipment maker, is delaying an auction of its range of patents set for June 20 by one week after seeing a “significant level of interest” in the technology portfolio.

The auction of the 6,000 patents and patent applications will now be held on June 27, the Mississauga, Ontario-based company said in a statement today.

Google Inc., which is looking to acquire patents that could be used for phones that run its Android software, offered $900 million in April in what Nortel said was a starting point for an auction. RPX Corp., a San Francisco-based patent-buying firm, is considering a bid, an attorney for the company said last month.

Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, and phone-equipment supplier Ericsson AB are also weighing bids, people familiar with those companies’ plans have said.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy in January 2009 after a loss of $5.8 billion as its customers put off spending on new equipment amid the recession. Since then, Nortel has raised about $3 billion to pay creditors by selling businesses, with the patents portfolio the last of the major assets to be sold.

The Nortel patents cover telecommunications technology used in wireless handsets and networks, as well as Internet search, semiconductors and social networking. The patents may also help protect companies in legal disputes or generate licensing revenue.

To top Google’s bid, companies have to offer at least $929 million under rules approved by the courts overseeing Nortel’s bankruptcy. The growing interest may boost the price for Nortel’s patents to more than $1 billion, said Rich Ehrlickman, president of Boca Raton, Florida-based patent broker IPOfferings.

The case is Nortel Networks Inc., 09-10138, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

--With assistance from Steven Church in Wilmington and John Lear in Chicago. Editors: Niamh Ring, Fred Strasser

To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net


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