Canada legislators to probe sale of Nortel assets

Wed Aug 5, 2009 1:58pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian legislators will hold an emergency day-long meeting on Friday to examine the proposed sale of wireless assets from bankrupt Nortel Networks to Sweden's Ericsson, a deal that opposition parliamentarians say could be bad for Canada.

The investigation by Parliament's industry committee does not have the power to overturn the sale but will put more pressure on the government to review it.

Ericsson submitted the winning $1.13 billion bid for the wireless assets in late July. However, Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry maker Research In Motion says Nortel's technology should be kept in Canada.

"We want to get some answers on a number of questions. For example, how did the bidding process unfold? Where has the government been on all this?" said Marc Garneau, industry spokesman for the main opposition Liberal party.

"We want to make sure that due diligence is followed here in terms of protecting the interests of Canadians in terms of the intellectual property that is at play here."

A statement from the industry committee on Wednesday said witnesses from Nortel, Ericsson and RIM, as well as the federal Industry Department, were expected to appear.

Industry Minister Tony Clement said last week he would not decide whether to review the sale until after a 21-day appeal period had been completed. The sale has already been approved by U.S. and Canadian courts.

Clement's office did not respond to two requests for comment.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)

<p>A sign is pictured outside Nortel's Carling Campus in Ottawa July 24, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>