RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – A third bidder – Sweden-based Ericsson – has entered the bidding for bankrupt Nortel’s wireless networking division with a bid of $730 million, according to media reports.

The Globe and Mail in Toronto reported Thursday the Ericsson bid.

An Ericsson spokesperson confirmed the company’s interest, telling Reuters: "We always look at opportunities that can be of interest for Ericsson and create value for us, and we participate in this process to the point it makes sense.”

Ericsson’s bid amount, which the spokesperson did not confirm, tops earlier offers from Nokia Siemens of $650 million and a $725 bid from private equity firm MatlinPatterson, a big Nortel debt holder.

The auction is set for Friday at a bankruptcy court in New Jersey.

The auction will go ahead despite protests from Canada-based Research In Motion, which has said this week it also is interested.

In a statement issued Wednesday by Nortel and reported by Reuters, Nortel said: "Nortel, the Canadian Monitor, the U.S. Unsecured Creditors’ Committee and the Ad Hoc Bondholder Group have reviewed the circumstances related to RIM and have concluded that all bidders must comply with the bidding rules in order to maintain the integrity of the court-approved process. Consistent with that process, the auction will commence as planned on Friday, July 24, 2009."

Another company, Avaya, is bidding for other parts of Nortel.