* Patents in question not part of Ericsson deal
* RIM, Nortel held deal talks on potential acquisition
* RIM reiterates still interested in certain Nortel assets
(Adds background, details. In U.S. dollars unless noted)
By Wojtek Dabrowski
TORONTO, July 27 BlackBerry maker Research In
Motion RIM.TORIMM.O has held talks with Nortel Networks
NRTLQ.PK on buying next-generation wireless patents that were
not part of Nortel's $1.13 billion wireless asset sale on the
weekend, a source familiar with the situation said on Monday.
On Saturday, bankrupt Nortel sold a portfolio of CDMA and
next-generation LTE wireless assets to Swedish telecom
equipment maker Ericsson (ERICb.ST).
However, Nortel and RIM have held negotiations on other key
patents related to the next-generation wireless business "for
months," the source told Reuters on Monday.
By trying to buy the LTE patents still held by Nortel, RIM
is aiming to future-proof its business and avoid having to
license the technology later from another company, said
Research Capital analyst Nick Agostino.
"The opportunity is here now for them to own the ...
hopefully material patents," Agostino said. "They can save on
royalty costs and I think it's also going to be a benefit on
Nortel said it had no comment. RIM was not immediately
available, but in a statement on Sunday it reiterated it
"remains interested in acquiring certain Nortel assets,"
without providing specifics.
RIM's talks with Nortel are on hold and the Ericsson offer
is awaiting court approval. However, the existence of the
negotiations suggests RIM may be working to put together a deal
with Nortel even though RIM claimed it was shut out of bidding
on the assets that Nortel sold to Ericsson.
Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM had argued that Nortel's
bidding process imposed unreasonable conditions and had
effectively blocked RIM's own proposed $1.1 billion bid.
Toronto-based Nortel, however, had accused RIM of not
complying with common confidentiality provisions that other
bidders had agreed to follow.
The tense situation appeared to cool off at least a little
on the weekend, when Nortel announced that Ericsson had won the
Nortel, once North America's biggest maker of telecom
equipment, filed for bankruptcy protection in January, blaming
the economic crisis for derailing its turnaround attempts.
It has begun selling key divisions in hopes of generating
value for its stakeholders, rather than attempting a
restructuring that would see it emerge from creditor
Nortel was once a Canadian high tech powerhouse, boasting a
market capitalization of more than $250 billion and some 90,000
employees at the height of the tech boom at the start of the
Today, the company is little but a shadow of its former
self with 25,000 employees left. Its stock has been delisted
from the major exchanges in Canada and the United States and is
worth almost nothing.
Even before the economy sputtered, Nortel posted billions
in losses. Its massive job cuts, asset sales and
reorganizations were not enough to offset a plunge in demand
for its products.
As well, industry rivals such as Alcatel and Lucent merged
while Nortel sat on the sidelines and Asian competitors
captured market share with lower-cost offerings.
(Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway)