Reports out of Canada say that a team of former Nortel executives hope to raise money in order to buy the company out of bankruptcy and keep it more or less intact and under Canadian ownership. Former Nortel president Robert Ferchat, 74, leads a group that also includes former chief marketing officer Ian Craig and retired Nortel vice-president David Mann. It might be more accurate to call Ferchat the former president of Northern Telephone, since that was what Nortel was called back in 1991 when Ferchat last worked there.
Ferchat told the Ottawa Citizen that his group hopes to raise at least $1 billion US from investment banks in order to buy Nortel through the bankruptcy courts.
Meanwhile, Nortel’s current executives are still trying to sell off the company’s top business units. But Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski’s efforts have been undermined because no one is willing to pay very much for them. For instance, Nortel sold its application delivery buisness to Radware in February for just pennies on the dollar. Nortel originally acquired that business when it bought Alteon for about $6 billion in 2000. Radware paid just $17.5 million to take the Alteon business off Nortel’s hands.
I’ve heard rumors that Avaya and especially Enterasys-Siemens are interested in buying Nortel’s enterprise communications business, but they are more interested in gaining access to Nortel’s customers than actually owning Nortel’s technology. How much are they willing to pay when they can simply try poaching nervous customers (and partners)?