Sorry, Nokia Siemens: Ciena Gets Nortel Optical Assets

Ciena Corp. (CIEN) has landed court approvals to buy Nortel Networks’ optical networking assets, overcoming objections from a rival desperate to get its hands on those same properties.

Ciena won the Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN) unit at auction in mid-November with a bid of $530 million in cash and $239 million principal of convertible notes. But on Wednesday, Nokia Siemens Networks – the other bidder for the optical division – tried to delay the then-pending court permissions. Nokia Siemens said it would offer Nortel $810 million in cash for MEN.

Its move came too late, however. By the time Nokia Siemens acted, bankruptcy courts in the United States and Canada had blessed the Ciena takeover. Nortel and Ciena still need approvals from regulators in France and Israel. The two companies aim to close the deal in the first quarter of 2010.

Nokia Siemens has had little luck in the frenzy over Nortel’s many assets. This summer, it appeared the joint venture between Nokia Corp. and Siemens was set to snag Nortel’s wireless business. Ericsson, however, stole Nokia Siemens’ opportunity with a $1.13 billion bid.

It’s not clear what Nokia Siemens’ next move will be as it struggles to compete in the telecom-equipment marketplace. The company has stayed true to a cost-cutting course, outsourcing key functions and laying off thousands of workers as it tries to make money in an intensely competitive sector.

Meanwhile, bankruptcy courts on Wednesday also signed off on two other, lesser-publicized Nortel sales. On Nov. 24, telecom gear maker Ericsson and Kapsch CarrierCom, a smaller, Austria-based Ericsson partner, scored Nortel’s GSM businesses at auction with a joint bid of $103 million in cash. Both companies expect to close the takeover of Nortel assets by the end of 2010’s first quarter and each plans to hire hundreds of Nortel employees.

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