A British pension fund regulator has filed a claim for 2.1 billion pounds ($3.3 billion) against failed telecom equipment giant Nortel Networks Corp, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Saturday.

The report said the move set the stage for a potential international tug of war between the fallen company's far-flung creditors.

The article said a filing to an Ontario court showed the UK Pensions Regulator set a March 1 deadline for action that could lead to an order against Nortel's assets.

Officials with Britain's Pensions Regulator could not immediately be reached for comment on the report.

Once North America's biggest telecommunications equipment maker, Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009 and is auctioning off its assets in an effort to pay back debt holders, rather than restructuring the business.

Nortel said in a statement the British regulator was attempting to impose proceedings under UK law that both Canadian debtors and Ernst & Young, Nortel's monitor as it operates under Canadian court protection from creditors, believe have been stayed by a Canadian court order.

The monitor is asking the court to declare that the initial order stays the commencement of these proceedings and to authorize and direct the monitor and Canadian debtors to refrain from participating in any such proceedings, the statement said.

Any claims the UK Pensions Regulator has should be addressed through the court-approved claims process, it added.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Peter Cooney)