Late Thursday, a consortium of tech companies made up of Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion and Sony, paid $4.5 billion, five times Google's opening bid, for Nortel's portfolio of more than six-thousand patents and patent applications.
The final price tag was roughly three times what had been expected, highlighting the value of intellectual property in the fast-changing telecoms world, where established players are seeking to keep out newer rivals.
“Following a very robust auction, we are pleased at the outcome of the auction of this extensive patent portfolio”, Nortel Chief Strategy Officer George Riedel said in a statement. “The size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world.”A joint hearing before courts in the United States and Canada is set to be held on July 11 to formally approve the sale. Google and other parties have until July 6 to file objections to the sale.
Nortel, a one-time cornerstone of the telecom industry, filed for bankruptcy two years ago and since has seemingly been reduced to little more than an estate sale, as all of the valuables of the fallen titan are being auctioned off.
Last year, Nortel sold its optical networking and carrier ethernet business to Ciena for $769 million and its wireless business to Ericsson for $1.3 billion.
Even with the cash haul, Nortel revealed it doesn’t expect to have any remaining value for common shareholders once it completes its bankruptcy protection hearings.