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8/20/2009
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Ericsson-Nortel Deal Nearly Complete

RIM's appeal to the Canadian government to stop the $1.13 billion acquisition appears to be falling on deaf ears.

Time is ticking away on Research In Motion's attempt to stop Ericsson's $1.13 billion deal to take over Nortel's LTE/CDMA unit.

The deadline for an appeal in bankruptcy court expired this week and RIM did not challenge the deal. RIM has asked Canadian government officials to challenge the takeover on national security grounds, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated he won't block it.

RIM hasn't said much publicly about why it is interested in the Nortel assets, but the Ontario-based firm hasn't carried out much infrastructure deployment, while Nortel and Ericsson have. It likely has its eye on Nortel's valuable LTE intellectual property assets. RIM has been forced to pay staggering sums of money on intellectual property issues in the past and wants to gird for the future by beefing up its own wireless patent portfolio.

A last-ditch attempt to block the sale to Ericsson revolves around arcane methods of valuing Nortel's prized unit. Generally, the deal isn't likely to be reviewed by the national government unless the book value of the assets exceeds $312 million Canadian, according to a complex formula. Nortel, however, has argued that the acquisition is valued at $149 million Canadian, which would preclude a review by the government.

Earlier this month, Ericsson's Mark Henderson said that Nortel will continue to own LTE patents, which will be available on a non-exclusive basis to other companies, according to Canadian media reports. Henderson, who is president and CEO of Ericsson Canada, has noted that Ericsson has deployed much existing wireless telecom infrastructure in Canada.

The LTE patents are promising to become increasingly valuable as LTE networks are rolled out throughout the world. In the United States, Verizon Wireless has successfully tested the technology in Boston and Seattle and plans to launch a commercial LTE service next year.


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