Nortel Files for Bankruptcy Protection!

15 01 2009

In another incident of the worsening global recession Nortel Networks Corp, North America’s biggest maker of telephone equipment, filed for bankruptcy protection in Wilmington, Delaware, amid the global credit crunch and declining sales.

Nortel, based in Toronto, had more than $1 billion in assets and debt, according to today’s Chapter 11 filing of its US subsidiary. The company said that several Canadian affiliates will also seek court protection.

Canadian investor Gavin Graham recalls the time when Nortel Networks Corp. was so big, with a market value of almost $250 billion, that fund managers had to own shares just to keep up with the benchmark index.

“You were pilloried if you didn’t own the stock,” said Graham, who helps oversee more than $30 billion as director of investments at Bank of Montreal Asset Management in Toronto. “Nowadays, I try not to embarrass people by asking who still owns Nortel.”

Nortel, North America’s biggest maker of telephone equipment, in business for 113 years, filed for bankruptcy protection today, capping one of the greatest corporate collapses in Canadian history. The stock fell 69 percent to 12 cents by 4:15 p.m. in trading today on the Toronto Stock Exchange, for a market value of C$60 million ($48 million).

At its peak in 2000, Nortel had annual revenue of $28 billion and employed about 93,000 people in more than 150 countries. The stock traded as high as C$1,245, adjusting for stock splits, for a market value of C$366 billion, making it the biggest company in Canada. The shares quadrupled in 1999 on expectations the Toronto-based phone equipment maker would benefit from the surge in demand for Internet-based technology.

Nortel accounted for 37 percent of the Toronto Stock Exchange 300 Composite Index, as it was called then. That created a problem for Canadian mutual fund managers, since Canadian law bars mutual funds from holding more than 10 percent of assets in any one stock.

Source:  Bloomberg

See also a timeline of events in the company here.

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