Report: Nortel seeks to sell off more business units

Troubled networking vendor looks to offload more pieces of the business

Nortel may sell off more of itself than previously announced, leaving very little as a core business if all the speculated sales go through.

The company is looking for buyers of its wireless equipment and enterprise telecom businesses, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Interested parties include Avaya, Siemens, Gores Group and Nokia Siemens, the report says.

"We are still in the process of developing a plan (as previously stated) that will in the best interests for our customers and stakeholders. When the plan is approved by the stakeholders and the court, we will communicate it," Nortel said in a written statement.

However, "a comprehensive restructuring plan may result in additional sales or divestitures, but we can provide no assurance that we will be able to complete any sale or divestiture on acceptable terms or at all," the company says in its annual report filing with the Security and Exchange Commission.

Nortel's CEO Mike Zafirovski says he will reveal his plan for the company next month or in May.

Avaya says it doesn't comment on rumors and speculation. The other possible buyers could not be reached before deadline for this story.

The Wall Street Journal report says that Nortel wants to sell off its enterprise division, but specifies only the telecom products. Nortel includes among product s in its Enterprise Solutions division unified communications, routing, switching, wireless LAN, security and contact centers. Siemens and Gores Group are mentioned as possibly interested, and Cisco is mentioned as having considering it but unlikely to bid.

The report also says it is interested in selling wireless voice gear, which may be part of the Enterprise Services division. The report names Nokia Siemens as a possible interested purchaser.

Radware has already sought to buy Nortel's application delivery unit for about US$18 million, which is based on equipment it bought when it purchased Alteon WebSystems in 2000. he products involved are Nortel Application Accelerators 510 and 610; Nortel Application Switches 3408E, 2424E, 2424 SSL E, 2216E, 2208E; and the Virtual Services Switch 5000.

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Tim Greene

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