Nortel to Court: We Cant Get Reorg Plan to You Yet

April is going to come and go without a new business plan from Nortel Networks Corp. (NT).

Two months after the telecom equipment maker filed for bankruptcy in January, it pledged to have a reorganization roadmap ready for investors and other parties by this month. Now Nortel is asking to push that deadline back to July 30.

The company’s court-appointed monitor, Ernst & Young, said the request is warranted. Cost-reduction efforts including job cuts and real-estate disposition prove that Nortel is working to spend less cash, the firm wrote in a court filing. The 3,200 layoffs announced in February mark “the first phase” of such cutbacks, Ernst & Young said, and attempted property sales also speak to Nortel’s intent to reorganize. Both moves illustrate Nortel’s diligent work and “good faith towards developing a restructuring strategy to address its financial and strategic issues,” Ernst & Young wrote.

Nortel’s request for more time came as little surprise, especially given industry speculation that Nortel will emerge from insolvency in pieces, not as a whole company. Several Nortel rivals already are reported to have placed their bids for certain divisions and there’s little consensus among pundits that the Canada-based equipment giant could re-emerge intact anyway.

Ernst & Young noted, too, in the filing, that Nortel has about $2.6 billion of consolidated cash. However, $525 million of that is unavailable for use because it’s been set aside for joint ventures or other hands-off commitments, according to Ernst & Young.

Nortel’s stock hasn’t traded on the New York Stock Exchange since Jan. 13. It remains priced at 32 cents.

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