Nortel Case Study
ACBG 4646 Accounting Ethics and Professionalism
Dr. Barbara M. Porco
The company was born way back in 1882, as a mechanical department that was created within Bell Telephone Company of Canada to manufacture telephones and telephone equipment for Canada. Eventually the company progressed to the manufacturing of switchboards. The manufacturing arm of the company grew along with the demand for phone. In 1900, Northern Electric manufactured the first Canadian wind-up gramophones that played flat discs. The company also used to be affiliated with AT&T/Western Electric until Western was forced to sell its stake in 1949. In 1976, the company changed its name from Northern Electric to Northern Telecom Limited, and shifted its concentration on digital technology. In 1977, Nortel introduced its DMS line of digital central office telephone switches. Nortel ended its long relationship with AT&T in 1984, a year after deregulation named. Bell Canada Enterprises the parent company to Northern Telecom. In 1998, the company acquired Bay Networks and changed its name to Nortel Networks. In the late 90’s, Nortel’s sales of fiber optic network gear was predicted to help their sales, but the market became saturated very quickly. At the height of Nortel’s first 100 years the company amassed for more than a third of the total valuation of all companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), but once the Internet bubble passed, the company fell into ethical debacle. Nortel Networks Corporation, or formally known as Northern Telecom Limited was one of the largest telecommunications equipment companies in the world prior to its filing for bankruptcy protection on January 14th, 2009. During times of functionality, they specialized in multinational telecommunications equipment manufacturing. The company is based in Canada out of Mississiauga, Ontario, Canada. Their biggest rival always was Global System Mobile (GSM). Through the early 1990s, the company invested heavily in Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) in attempt to grow in European and Asian markets. This did not pan out so well as Nortel’s losses amounted to $27.3 billion by 2001—causing them to lay off two-thirds of the workforce.
From 2000 through 2003 there was a period of fiscal irresponsibility resulting from the work of the company’s administrators. Initially in 2000, they falsified their fourth-quarter earnings by $1 billion to meet market expectations and selectively reversing certain revenue entries. In 2002, administrators discovered $300 million in excess reserves being carried over and swept it under the rug for future benefit in addition to establishing another $151 million in unnecessary reserves. In 2003, administrators directed the release of at least $490 million of excess reserves to boost earning, fabricate profits, and pay bonuses. Losses turned to profits during this year thanks to the shifty methods taking place. Later in that year, administrators mislead investors as to why Nortel was conducting a purportedly “comprehensive review” of its assets—attributed by restatement $948 million in liabilities. They said restatement was caused solely by internal control mistakes instead of the truth that there was intentional improper handling of reserves which needed to remain hidden.2
On October 23rd, 2003, the company announced that Nortel would restate its financials for fiscal years 2000, 2001, and 2002. Shortly after this restatement, the major players of Nortel’s administration that were responsible for all of this were exposed through an independent investigation. In March 2004, The CFO and controller were suspended, in addition to the announcement of further restatements and revisions; they were terminated a month later in April 2004. A restatement in early 2005 showed approximately $3.4...
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