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Nokia Siemens Networks sells off its optical business, swings focus to LTE

Nokia Siemens Networks has long been eager to shed as much weight as it can (unfortunately, including some staff) in a bid to turn around a business full of legacy hardware. The next on the chopping block, however, is a big one: the optical networking division. NSN has struck a deal to sell the fiber-focused group to Marlin Equity Partners and spin it out as a separate company. While the price of the deal isn't public, we're glad to hear that the 1,900 workers affected by the shift should keep their jobs if the agreement closes as promised, in early 2013. NSN chief Rajeev Suri makes no bones about the handover's goal -- it's to let his company concentrate on LTE and other thriving businesses while giving the optical group a second chance through Marlin's investment, if all goes well. We're left with an NSN that's considerably smaller than what we knew from its glory days, but it could be worth the hurt pride if the company stays standing.

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Nokia Siemens Networks reaches agreement to sell Optical Networks business to Marlin Equity Partners

Espoo, Finland – December 3, 2012

* Divestment to further enhance Nokia Siemens Networks' strategic focus on Mobile Broadband

* Optical unit to be established by Marlin Equity Partners as independent new company with financial resources committed to building leadership position in optical networking market

* Marlin Equity Partners is a long-term investor with an extensive and successful track record in the technology industry

Nokia Siemens Networks and Marlin Equity Partners announced today that they had reached an agreement for Nokia Siemens Networks to sell its Optical Networks business unit to Marlin Equity Partners in a deal that would result in the unit being established as an independent company with the goal of becoming a leading provider in the optical market.

The planned transaction is another step in the transformation of Nokia Siemens Networks into a mobile broadband specialist and will give both businesses the opportunity to concentrate investment and strategic focus on their core segments.

"During 2012 Nokia Siemens Networks has made tremendous progress in the transformation of our company to being the world's mobile broadband specialist. Our strategic focus on our core markets has enabled us to concentrate our energy and investment in areas such as LTE where we have strengthened our global leadership position," said Rajeev Suri, chief executive officer at Nokia Siemens Networks. "This transaction builds on that momentum and aims to provide a new home for the Optical Networks business with the focus, resources and strategic flexibility to address the opportunities in the optical market."

Marlin Equity Partners, a Los Angeles California-based private investment firm with over USD $1 billion of capital under management, has formed a new company and intends to act as a consolidator, building an industry leader in the fragmented optical networking sector.

"We are making a major commitment to this sector, and have significant capital under management that we intend to use as a catalyst for consolidation," said Nick Kaiser, a co-founder and partner at Marlin Equity Partners.

Pat DiPietro, Marlin Equity's telecom sector operating partner added, "We plan to make necessary investments to deliver market-leading optical networking solutions and enhance the long-term value already provided to our global customer base."

The new optical company will be headquartered in Munich, Germany with operations around the world and will be led by its existing management team with Herbert Merz nominated as chief executive officer.

"This transaction is very exciting for the business as it will give us the opportunity to build a long-term leader in optical and the strategic flexibility to be proactive in the market," said Merz. "Marlin is the ideal owner for this business as it is a long-term investor with an extensive and successful track record in our industry and direct experience of working with some of our customers."

Optical Networks is a leader in the long-haul and ultra-long-haul segment of the optical market with strong technology in the emerging 100G optical transmission area and a tier one global customer base.

As a result of the transaction up to 1,900 employees – mainly in Germany, Portugal and China – from the optical business unit and related functions are expected to transfer to the new company in line with applicable local legal requirements. Related existing customer contracts are planned to be transferred. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013.

The closing of the transaction is subject to the fulfillment of certain customary closing conditions, including, among others, antitrust clearance procedures.