The $1.13 billion sale of Nortel Networks' prized wireless assets to Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson will likely receive the blessing of the courts on Tuesday, although it is not yet clear if it will pass Canadian government muster.
Ericsson won an auction for the key CDMA and next-generation LTE wireless technology assets of Canada's bankrupt Nortel early on Saturday, beating out Nokia Siemens Networks and private equity firm MatlinPatterson.
A Delaware bankruptcy court is set to meet at 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) to hear any lingering objections to the sale. A hearing in Canada will be held at the same time and it will have a video link to the Delaware hearing. The Canadian court also has to back the deal.
Nortel said in a court filing on Tuesday that objections from Nortel suppliers Airvana Inc and Flextronics Corp and others had either been resolved or withdrawn, which may clear the way for a quick blessing from the judge.
Any objections to be heard by the court in Delaware will likely be qualitative in nature, experts have said.
Any viable objection that the judge would pay attention to would be one that states, 'we made the higher and better offer', said Anthony Sabino, a corporate attorney and professor of law and business at St. John's University in New York. As far as a criticism of the process is concerned that's not going to fly.
If approved by the courts, the deal would still need the approval of the Canadian government, which has been lobbied by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion to block the sale. RIM argues that keeping the Nortel technology in Canada is vital to national security.
A Nortel spokesman had no comment on Tuesday.
Canada's leading political parties have waded into the debate, turning the sale into a nationalist issue and questioning how much Canada is doing to support its technology industry.
The minority Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, potentially facing an election later this year, came under increasing pressure on Tuesday from opposition parties to block the deal.
Observers say the government may lose voters if it lets the assets of Nortel, once a national technology champion, leave Canadian hands.
Industry Minister Tony Clement has so far not ruled out intervening in the transaction but would not comment on any course of government action until after the court hearings.
Under the Canada Investment Act, any foreign takeover of a Canadian business with assets of more than C$312 million automatically triggers a government review.
However, government officials could not say for certain if the Ericsson acquisition would be subject to a review.
On Monday, a source said that RIM, which claims Nortel blocked its $1.1 billion approach for the wireless assets last week, has held talks with Nortel about buying the next-generation wireless patents that were not part of the wireless asset sale to Ericsson.
(Reporting by Pav Jordan, Euan Rocha and Wojtek Dabrowski in Toronto, Louise Egan in Ottawa and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; editing by Peter Galloway)