Almost a year after Nortel filed for bankruptcy, we take a look at what’s left of the 114-year-old company that began as Northern Electric and Manufacturing to sell telephones to Canadians. All that remains are some patents and an IP phone joint venture with LG.

Ciena today announced that it had jumped all of the regulatory hurdles in its $769 million buy for the metro Ethernet assets of Canadian telecommunications company Nortel, bringing the company’s year-long dismemberment through the bankruptcy courts closer to the end. According to a Nortel spokeswoman, the company has some patents and its joint venture with LG Electronics left.

The LG joint venture was created in 2005 and offers IP phones and unified communications equipment. Nortel put its portion of the JV on the block in May. The scope of the remaining patents, which include some potentially valuable LTE patents, is unclear. But as we end the year it’s worth taking a look at one of the first victims of what we believe will be an ongoing consolidation of the telecommunications equipment industry. Nortel’s demise brings to a close more than 100 years of operations for the company, which started out in 1895 as Northern Electric and Manufacturing supplying telephones (and later gramophones!) to Canadians.

Jan. 14: Nortel files for bankruptcy with $4.5 billion in debt.

Feb. 20: It becomes clear that Nortel will sell itself in pieces rather than emerge from bankruptcy as a whole company.

Feb. 25: Nortel cuts 3,200 employees, bringing its workforce down to 25,000.

March 31: Radware buys Nortel’s application delivery business for $18 million. Nortel bought that business in 2000 for $7 billion.

July 28: Nortel gets court approval to sell its CDMA business and LTE Access assets to Ericsson for $1.13 billion after some drama involving a bid by Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry. Nokia Siemens Network was also a potential bidder. The deal is completed on Nov. 13.

August 10: Nortel’s CEO Mike Zafirovski quits.

Nov. 23: Ciena beats out Nokia Siemens Networks for Nortel’s metro Ethernet assets with a bid of $769 million.

Nov. 25: Ericsson and Kapsch emerge as successful joint bidders for Nortel’s global GSM/GSM-R business, and on Dec. 2 received court approval to pay $103 million in cash for the assets.

Dec. 8: Nortel completes the sale of some of its Carrier Networks business associated with the development of next generation packet core network components to Hitachi for $10 million.

Dec. 18: Nortel completes the sale of its global Enterprise Solutions business, as well as its government equipment business and DiamondWare subsidiary, to Avaya for $900 million.

Dec. 23: Nortel agrees to sell its Carrier VoIP business to privately held Genband for $282 million.

Image courtesy of Ashwin Kumar’s Flickr stream.

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  1. Nortel has not agreed to sell to GenBand. They have announced GenBand as the “stalking horse” bidder in the yet to be announced auction. The “stalking horse” bidder is not necessarily the winner & we’ll have to wait to see who emerges on top. We should know that at some point in Feb ’10.

    1. Nortelian, you are right that Genband is a stalking horse bidder, but so far Nortel has entered into an agreement to sell those assets to Genband. I was careful not to say that the sale was complete, because as you point out, the stalking horse bidder is not always the winner.

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  3. What a sad story – Canada’s flagship high-tech company has nearly disappeared. It’s a classic case of mismanagement over the past decade – something that MBA students will have a field day examining in the decades to come. For anyone who wants daily insight into Nortel’s demise, check out http://www.allaboutnortel.com.

  4. You forgot to mention Avaya’s purchase of Nortel’s Enterprise unit

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