Nortel Networks, just over a year into its bankruptcy, is selling off its last significant business by accepting Genband's $182 million offer for its VOIP business. Nortel over the past few months already had sold off the bulk of its units, including its wireless and enterprise businesses. The deal leaves Nortel with only a handful of assets, such as its multiservice switch business.
Nortel Networks, which has sold off significant parts of its business since
filing for bankruptcy protection in January 2009, is now selling its voice-over-IP
Genband, a small company based in Plano,
Texas, has agreed to buy Nortel's VOIP
business for $182 million, Nortel announced Feb. 24. Nortel officials said they
expect to close the deal in the second quarter after gaining regulatory
approval in the United States,
Canada and Israel.
The two companies have scheduled a joint hearing March 3 before U.S.
and Canadian regulators.
Nortel's CVAS (Carrier VoIP
and Application Solutions) unit is the last major part of the company to be
sold, although Nortel still holds some assets, according to a spokesperson.
In June 2009, Nokia Siemens Networks bought
(Code Division Multiple Access) wireless business and most of
its LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology for $650 million. After that, Avaya
bought Nortel's enterprise business
for $900 million, Ericsson bought the
wireless business for $1.13 billion, and Ciena bought Nortel's optical
networking and carrier Ethernet businesses for $532 million.
Unlike most of those deals, Genband is buying the Nortel
business through a direct deal rather than a bid. In December, Genband had put
in a "stalking horse" bid, designed to set the lowest limit for bids.
However, no other company placed a bid for Nortel's VOIP business.
In the deal, Genband will get all of the CVAS
product platforms-included softswitches, gateways, SIP (Session Initiation
Protocol) applications and TDM (time-division multiplexing) products and
services-as well as patents and all of Nortel's CVAS
customer contracts. TDM networks transmit data in dedicated end-to-end
Genband officials said they see the deal as giving the company
the tools to enhance its IP switching capabilities.
"By melding these market-leading technologies into
Genband, we will create the most comprehensive, standards-based switching portfolio
in the world," Charles Vogt, company president and CEO,
said in a statement. "Our vision is to fuel the industry's desired network
migration path to cutting-edge IP technology by instituting open standards,
open interfaces and interoperability. No other supplier will be better
positioned to [offer] service providers a more cost-effective means to optimize
their existing fixed TDM networks, and transition from fixed TDM to IP and from
fixed to mobile convergence."
Throughout the past year, Nortel officials have said selling
off the company's business units was the best way to ensure that Nortel's technology
continued and that as many jobs as possible could be saved. That was also the
case with the Genband sale, according to Samih Elhage, president of Nortel's CVAS
"Joining forces with Genband will allow us to continue to
provide a highly reliable solution and service offering to service providers
and enterprises across the globe," Elhage said in a statement. "I am
also pleased that a significant majority of Nortel's employees ... will have the
opportunity to continue their innovative work with Genband."
Nortel filed for bankruptcy after turnaround efforts in 2008
did not work. Officials at the time placed much of the blame on the shaky
economic conditions that they said hobbled turnaround efforts.
President and CEO Mike
Zafirovski, along with several board members, resigned in August 2009, after
the company announced a quarterly loss of $274 million.
Nortel spokesperson Jamie Moody said in an interview that the
company's eventual goal is complete divestiture, though at this point it's
still unclear what officials will do with the remaining assets.
Those include the MSS (Multiservice
Switch) business-formerly dubbed "Passport"-its stake in the alliance
with LG and some patents related to what's left of its LTE business.
"There have been discussions [about the fate of those
assets]," Moody said. "No decisions have been made."