Wi-LAN eyes Nortel's LTE patent portfolio: CEO

BANGALORE (Reuters) - Wi-LAN Inc WIN.TO said on Wednesday it was eyeing bankrupt Nortel Networks Corp's NRTLQ.PK fourth-generation wireless technology patents, and had held preliminary talks with bankruptcy trustees.

Wi-LAN, which develops and licenses intellectual property for products in the communications and consumer electronics markets, said many investment banks have approached it to make a pitch for Nortel’s intellectual property, particularly the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

“We are looking at the patents ... We are quite interested in the LTE or the 4G wireless portfolio,” Chief Executive Jim Skippen said by phone. “Although there may be few other portfolios, but that is the one we are most interested in.”

To acquire the patents, Wi-LAN may float a separate company, wherein institutional investors would provide capital, the CEO said.

“I still think it is going to take a while for this whole thing to play out, but we definitely have oars in the water, and we definitely are looking at it and thinking about,” the CEO said on a conference call.

Once North America’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker, Nortel filed for bankruptcy in January 2009. It is auctioning off its assets in an effort to pay back debt holders, rather than restructuring the business.

However, the company continues to retain more than 3,000 patents in the United States as well as other countries, which could potentially earn huge money for the company.

Wi-LAN, which currently has more than 800 patents, said it signed contracts with 59 companies in 2009 and is focusing on advanced wireless technologies, particularly technologies applicable to the use of white-space frequency for broadband access.

Wi-LAN reported a narrower full-year net loss, helped by a one-time tax gain, and said it expects higher revenue for 2010.

The company said it sees revenue of C$40 million to C$45 million ($38.7 million to $43.6 million) for 2010.

For the year ended December 31, the company posted a net loss of C$1.7 million, or 2 Canadian cents per share, compared with a net loss of C$9.2 million, or 10 Canadian cents per share for the year ended October 31 2008.

Wi-LAN said earnings were helped by a one-time tax gain of C$19.6 million related to its corporate restructuring program.

Revenue rose 33 percent to C$35.4 million.

Wi-LAN shares closed at C$2.95 Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. They touched a high of C$3.04 in regular session.

Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Ashutosh Joshi in Bangalore; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy, Ratul Ray Chaudhuri