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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Bidding begins Friday for bankrupt Nortel Networks’ Optical Networking and Carrier Ethernet operations, the company said after getting at least one more expression of interest in the auction.

Reuters and Bloomberg reported that teamed up with investment adviser to get a bidding paddle, though Nortel (OTC:NRTLQ) was mum on who or how many companies had entered the action for its Metro Ethernet Networks division, which includes the two businesses and some of Nortel’s most-valued intellectual properties and employees.

The telecomm equipment-maker had received a stalking-horse bid of $532 million from competitor Ciena. In October, bankruptcy courts in the U.S. and Canada approved that as a starting point.

For its part, Nortel issued a statement saying only that "it will proceed to an auction of these businesses" on Friday. Both news services cited sources for their reports. It had set a final deadline of 5 p.m. Wednesday for other interested bidders to signal their intentions.

Maryland-based Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN) has offered to hire most of the 2,000 employees in the network operations.

Despite Nortel’s ongoing bankruptcy, which it declared in January, the Optical Networking groups has recorded 52 “wins” this year for its 40-gigabit networking solution and is continuing field trials of its 100-gigabit solution that is planned for release later this year. However, sales at Metro Ethernet Networks fell 26 percent to $295 million in the third quarter from a year earlier, Nortel reported on Nov. 16.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada and the U.S. in January.

Nokia Siemens Networks is a partnership formed by the two European companies.

One Equity Partners is an eight-year-old money manager that manages $8 billion of investments and commitments for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in direct private equity transactions, it says. "Partnering with management, OEP invests in transactions that initiate strategic and operational changes in businesses to create long-term value," One Equity says.

The company’s portfolio consists of hospital companies, several firms that offer business management services and some travel companies.

Nortel will still require court approvals once a winner is determined. The company will likely appear before a judge next week, though a date has not been set, Reuters said.