Ericsson leads race for Nokia Siemens' support systems business

Ericsson, the world's largest maker of telecommunications equipment, is leading the race to buy the business support systems (BSS) unit of rival Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), Dow Jones Newswires yesterday reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Though US-based telecom software maker Amdocs Ltd is also in the race, the Stockholm-based wireless network company is the front-runner in the second round of auction, for the unit that provides billing and revenue management systems for telecoms operators, the report said.

Struggling data networking and telecommunications NSN is a joint venture between Finland-based Nokia and Munich-based Siemens AG.

Officially launched at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona in February 2007 to compete against Ericsson and Chinese rival Huawei Technologies, NSN has been struggling to generate profit, having posted losses in all but one quarter.

In July 2010, NSN abandoned plans of selling itself after private-equity firms came with a low-ball offer. Last November, the company announced a global restructuring program that included 17,000 jobs cuts in order to save €1 billion in costs.

It sold three divisions last year, and according to an internal memo seen by Dow Jones Newswires, the BSS unit is one of several units that NSN had earmarked to be sold.

Ericsson, which has recently been expanding in North America, signed a $5-billion seven-year network outsourcing deal with US carrier Sprint in 2009, and also acquired the wireless equipment business of Nortel Networks in 2009 and BelAir Networks in 2011.

Last year, it also acquired US-based Telcordia Technologies, one of the leading providers of billing software to wireless carriers for $1.2 billion, in order to strengthen its business and operations support system.