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Canajun Finances Home » Nortel: What is Left?

Nortel: What is Left?

Most of my regular readers know that I am a survivor of the great Nortel debacle, and I have had a lot of folks ask me questions about whether I am one of the unlucky people (still) standing in line hoping to get money from the former Canadian Technology Demigod, and the easy answer is no (fortunately), I don’t think they owe me anything (but I am not positive, there may be payments for patent work).

I first wrote about leaving Nortel in On Being Laid Off, which was just a raw statement that I had been let go after 20 years working there, but I have mostly stayed away from the topic of Nortel. Given time has passed, let’s look back 6 years ago and I can expand on a few areas where I have had many questions about what happened to me in specific after I got laid off.

I Love Nortel
I Love Nortel

In my article Nortel Teeters, I hinted that things might not go well should Nortel declare bankruptcy in January, 2009, but I really had no sense of just how lucky (and prophetic) that I was with my statements. At the time, I still thought the Canadian government would not let Nortel go into full bankruptcy, there was too much on the line, but I was sadly mistaken. I even did buy the dip and hoped the stock would go up. I was sadly mistaken

On January 15, 2009, I saw how close a bullet I had dodged (more like a howitzer shell) and learned Sometimes it’s Better to be Lucky in life. To paraphrase what I wrote:

  1. I had already been paid all of my severance money before the bankruptcy declaration
  2. I had removed my funds from the Nortel pension plan (earlier than I had planned, again by blind luck)

So, in fact, I wasn’t just lucky, I was the same as  the Irishman who decided not to take the Titanic, and take an earlier  boat. How was I this fortunate ? Thanks go to Michael James, My Wife and a few other folks, as they made me act quickly enough and I am lucky I did, because anybody owed money by Nortel on January 15,2009 were out of luck. Who might these unfortunate folks have been (aside from the folks who loaned them money (bond holders), subcontractors and other real creditors)?

  • Anybody owed severance payments of any kind, have received next to nothing (if not nothing) since that date (that I am aware of)
  • Folks on their disability insurance program, as Nortel was self-insuring, thus those folks stopped getting payments as well
  • The Nortel Pension was owed a great deal of money, as it was in a short-fall before the bankruptcy, that never got paid back (that is one of the bigger arguments about remaining funds).

In the news lately (this being 2014) there are discussions going on about the remaining funds from the Nortel dissolution (mostly from the patents sales  and the like), and who will be getting funds from this pool of money? Bond holders will be getting some money, that is for sure, and some of the European pensioners will get some money, but who gets what of the remaining money remains in question , the money seems to be in the hands of two people now. Two bankruptcy judges one in the US and one in Toronto are now deciding what to do with the left over billions.

For me, I was lucky (the understatement of the century), I am owed nothing more (that I am aware) from Nortel, for those waiting for hopefully a few crumbs from the remnants, I wish them Bonne Chance, and hope for the best for them, and their families. At times I have had survivor’s remorse, in that I managed to get away in one piece, and I know of others that were not so lucky, but that is how life works, I suppose.

Feel Free to Comment

  1. Wow, from the sounds of it you got really lucky. I would have thought that the pension funds were in a trust account or something equally protected.

    It really is too bad that Nortel was allowed to crumble, I guess the question is, would have it been worth it to save? I just don’t know enough to offer any thoughts.

    1. The Pension moneys are administered by a company that was “arms length” from Nortel, however, they also invested heavily in Nortel stock, thus creating the “short fall” that Nortel was supposed to replenish (I think, not sure) but that never really happened.

  2. It always saddens me to hear of company bankruptcies where pensions are affected. The morally right thing to do in these instances would be to take care of the pensions first. This seldom seems to happen. I often wonder why more longstanding employees who get the shaft this way don’t go ballistic.

    1. There has been a concerted effort by retirees to get money put back into the Pension, however, there has been little help for them from their Provincial and Federal MP’s and almost no interest from either Government as well. I guess pensioners aren’t a big voting block? It is criminal (in my opinion) that there is any kind of discussion that the Pensions may not get any new funding.

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