Nortel Talking With Ciena As Workers Plan Protests

Ciena Corp. (CIEN) stock had dipped 3.68 percent by 2:56 Eastern on word the telecom equipment maker wants to buy Nortel Networks’ optical networking and carrier Ethernet businesses.

That Ciena is interested is no surprise – there’s been talk of the company buying Nortel’s Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN) unit for more than a year. The ongoing questions are whether Ciena can afford MEN, successfully oversee a transition, and handle customers who are ticked off at Nortel and doubt its reputation.

Nortel confirmed on Monday it is in “advanced discussions” with Ciena regarding the optical and Ethernet assets. The deal would still need to go through the bidding process, however, so there is no guarantee Ciena would emerge as the actual buyer.

Meanwhile, as Canada’s Industry Minister Tony Clement has at last agreed to review the Avaya purchase of Nortel’s enterprise assets, pensioners, retirees and other former Nortel workers plan to hold a protest rally in Ontario this coming Wednesday. They say they’ll call on the federal government to “overhaul the country’s unfair bankruptcy system.” That’s because so many of them will receive little or no severance or pension now that Nortel is insolvent; Canada, unlike the United States and the U.K., does not have laws that protect workers from not getting paid by their bankrupt employers.

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