First Nokia Siemens, that well-known stalking horse, bid a speculative US650 million for Nortel's CDMA and LTE wireless assets. Apparently it did so not in any real expectation of walking off with the spoils at a knock-down price, but to flush-out into the open other, more serious, would-be buyers, writes Martyn Warwick.
Step forward then Research In Motion (RIM). The maker of the unfeasibly popular Blackberry suite of PDAs. Blinking in the bright light of the short Canadian summer, RIM says it will pay up to $1.1 billion for the technologies that it describes as "strategic assets" that should remain in Canada under Canadian ownership and control.
However, as we reported on Tuesday, Nortel in it's (lack of) wisdom has decided that RIM will be included out of the bidding process unless the company agrees not to attempt to buy any other of the bits of Nortel lying forlornly and cloudy-eyed on the "Please, Please Buy Me" slab for at least 12 months. What are these people on?
What was even more galling for RIM was that Nortel imposed its ludicrous restrictions on the very day it sold its network-building enterprise arm to Avaya of the US for the fire sale price of $475 million. No wonder Nortel's benighted shareholders hate the company they used to love.
And now we hear that MPAM Wireless, a subsidiary of Matlin Patterson, is to make a bid for all Nortel's CDMA and LTE assets. MatlinPatterson is a US investment vehicle and a major bondholder in and creditor of Nortel.
It says it will pay up to $725 million - an improvement on the Nokia Siemens' deliberately undervalued offer but well below what RIM would be prepared to pay. Barking.
Meanwhile, over in France, Nortel workers, proud of their revolutionary heritage, threatened to blow up a Nortel factory in the town of Yvelines, close to Paris, unless they get substantially improved redundancy payoffs. They went so far as place gas cylinders all around the plant but when police investigated they were found to be empty. 480 jobs are to go at the facility.
Workers at Yvelines say Nortel is messing them about, changing proposals and playing games by arranging and then canceling meetings with no notice. A union official said, "Nortel is stringing us along. They have no respect for us. They are cynical and manipulative, but we have ways of responding to that."
Implicit (and let's face it, downright overt) threats of direct action finally flushed a member of the Sarkozy administration out of its summer somnolence. Interviewed on TV, Labour Minister Xavier Darcos said, "We will find a solution acceptable to the workers. We are going to speak to each other and, hopefully, we will find a solution that does not require resorting to extreme violence."
Don't you just love that "hopefully"? Sans culottes! To the barricades!
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