Channel Marker

Dec 5 2008   3:05PM GMT

Is there anyone not trying to steal Nortel partners?

rivkalittle Rivka Little Profile: rivkalittle

Seems Juniper Networks is not the only buzzard swooping over the potential ruins of Nortel to snatch its channel partners.

John Wrona, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Nortel partner Ronco Communications, said he’s been hit up by AT&T, Avaya, Siemens and Cisco in the past month or so. Nortel’s shares have been trading at below a buck since November 7 and analysts predict the company will fold or be sold.

Earlier this week, Juniper sent a letter to Nortel partners urging them to consider an “additional” relationship with the networking company, though the letter avoided mentioning Nortel’s financial woes.

Cisco apparently hasn’t been so gentle.

“Cisco is sending us stuff and telling us that Nortel is going to go out of business,” Wrona said, explaining that Ronco was once a big Cisco reseller and is still a partner.

Nortel channel reaction to Juniper’s advances was lukewarm and Wrona said Ronco (which didn’t receive the letter from Juniper) won’t take these other offers seriously.

“We’re picking up Nortel accounts that are being abandoned by BlackBox Resale Services in Florida,” said Wrona, adding that Ronco expects to step in for a number of partners that will dump their Nortel accounts and some that are expected to go bankrupt.

“It is about account control in 2009 — offering good service and making sure things last longer. It’s going to be a flat year of sales but a strong year of service,” Wrona said.

Still Wrona is realistic about the long term with Nortel, saying the company has a 50-50 shot at survival.

“Whenever you go below a dollar per share it’s pretty scary and it makes a lot of large enterprise customers say ‘we can’t take them seriously,’” Wrona said.

Thursday, Zacks Investment Research downgraded Nortel to a “sell” saying there is no “near-term growth catalyst for the company.” The same day 24/ called Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski one of 10 CEOs to go in 2009.

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