Nokia Siemens Networks' (NSN) key attraction to Nortel Networks Corp is its quarter share of the North American telecom gear market, analysts said on Wednesday.
NSN, a joint venture of Nokia and Siemens, made an unsolicited offer in March for large parts of Nortel's carrier network group, according to a Wall Street Journal report, citing people familiar with the matter.
The report, published on Tuesday, said the bids being offered for Nortel's various units are believed to be low.
NSN and Nortel representatives declined to comment.
Last month, a source familiar with the talks told Reuters the two firms had held talks on a possible deal.
Nokia Siemens has bought a few smaller companies -- mostly to expand its services and software offering -- since starting operations in 2007, and has not ruled out further acquisitions consistent with its focus on profitability and cash flow.
Bernstein Research said Nokia Siemens could pay $500 million to $1 billion for Nortel's wireless business, which would hike its North American market share to 33 percent from 7 percent.
Alcatel-Lucent would be the likely loser, missing the opportunity of gaining share, Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu said in a note.
Shares in Alcatel-Lucent were 2.8 percent lower by 0830 GMT, while Nokia was down 1.5 percent, roughly in line with a weaker DJ Stoxx European technology index.
NSN generated revenue of 198 million euros ($261.1 million) in North America in the fourth quarter, just 4.6 percent of total sales. Nokia has for years struggled to gain a significant presence in the operator-dominated North American handset market.
Could this possible deal open doors for Nokia in North America? That is the big question, said eQ Bank analyst Jari Honko.
Nortel, once the largest North American maker of telecommunications gear, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. federal court and for creditor protection in Canada's Ontario Superior Court of Justice in January.
The Wall Street Journal said Nokia Siemens is also interested in Nortel's LTE business, a new high-speed wireless technology intended to replace the current networks.
The technology is slated to be deployed in the coming years by large wireless telecommunications carriers including Vodafone Group Plc and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Vodafone and Verizon Communications Inc.
An auction of Nortel's enterprise unit last week attracted bids from Avaya Inc and Siemens Enterprise Communications, according to sources cited in the Wall Street Journal. An Avaya representative was not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki and Alexei Oreskovic)