Apple, RIM in group buying Nortel's patents for $4.5 billion

By Alastair Sharp and Renju Jose

TORONTO/BANGALORE (Reuters) - Apple Inc and Research In Motion are part of a winning consortium of six companies buying bankrupt Nortel Networks Corp's remaining patent portfolio for $4.5 billion, in a hotly contested auction that saw Google and Intel lose out.

Microsoft Corp, EMC Corp, Sweden's Ericsson and Sony Corp were also part of the group, telecommunications gear maker Nortel said in a statement late on Thursday.

The sale includes more than 6,000 patents and patent applications spanning wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, internet, semiconductors and other patents. The most prized ones relate to mobile broadband technology used in emerging 4G standards such as long term evolution (LTE).

The auction drew interest from major technology companies including Google, which opened the bidding at $900 million in April, Apple and Intel -- a trio relatively new to an increasingly litigious mobile industry which is seeing booming demand for smartphones and tablets.

"The size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world," said George Riedel, chief strategy officer and president of business units at Nortel.

RIM's portion of the purchase consideration is about $770 million, while Ericsson paid $340 million, the companies said in separate statements.

The sale is subject to Canadian and U.S. court approvals which will be sought at a joint hearing expected to be held on July 11, Nortel said.

Earlier on Thursday, Nortel obtained a court order to further extend the stay of proceedings under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) to December 14.

The patents are the last major assets to be sold by Nortel Networks, a once-giant Canadian technology company which imploded as the tech bubble burst, and filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009.

Nortel raised around $3.2 billion for creditors by selling business units since then.

Google has been a particular target of recent patent litigation, with Oracle Corp seeking $6.1 billion in damages over its Android software and Apple and Microsoft both targeting handset makers that use the software.

(Editing by Anshuman Daga)