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A consortium of old guard Nortel execs led by ex-CEO Bob Ferchat believe they can save Nortel, if only the Canadian government will help them out with a bit of funding - say about $1bn.

Bob Ferchat is supported by other senior Nortel figures - including David Paterson, David Mann and Ian Craig. Ferchat is an ex-president of the networking and telecom kit maker.

The group has some private funding in place but is also asking the Canadian government for money. It has met at least two Canadian ministers. If the money was forthcoming Nortel would keep about three quarters of its business and concentrate on building a fast broadband network for Canada, CBC reports.

Aside from an appeal to Canadian patriotism the group also have a cunning way to sweeten the pill for the government. Nortel has earned several million Canadian dollars in tax credits because of all the research and development money it has spent over the years. The group wants the government to change the rules, which require companies to be profitable before spending credits, for instance, so this money can be used to build the national network.

The high-speed network is being plugged as a national infrastructure project, like Australia's, which will help spark a Canadian tech renaissance, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

This is in stark opposition to Nortel's current strategy of selling itself off to various different companies in order to raise as much cash as possible for creditors.

Nortel has been brought low by a series of problems, ending with telcos reducing spending as the credit crunch began to bite late last year. In 2007 the company paid $35m in damages to shareholders to settle allegations that it inflated revenues between 2000 and 2003.

The company has limped from disaster to disaster - it only just missed going bust in the dot-com crash. In the second three months of 2001 Nortel lost a record-breaking $19.6bn. ®

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