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Bidders Emerge for Nortel Patents

Published on February 3, 2011
by Stuart Weinberg and Anupreeta Das

Canada’s Nortel Networks Corp. expects to select an initial bidder for a massive portfolio of patents within three weeks, drawing from a pool of at least five potential buyers including Apple Inc. and Google Inc., people familiar with the matter said.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy in 2009, and has been shedding its assets in bankruptcy court, including the portfolio of 4,000 patents. This portfolio contains a set of patents related to the emerging technology used in long-term evolution, or LTE, wireless phone networks. Wireless carriers, network-equipment firms and handset vendors are interested in the Nortel patents because they could be a critical defense against lawsuits in the competitive, and increasingly litigious, wireless industry.

The deal, expected at around $1 billion, would be a preliminary “stalking horse” bid filed with the Delaware bankruptcy court, these people said. Stalking-horse bids are initial offers for an asset that help set a floor price for a broader auction.

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