TORONTO - Swedish telecom giant Ericsson says it has officially submitted a bid for Nortel's wireless division, ahead of the auction that starts Friday.

A spokeswoman for Ericsson confirmed that the company made the move before the official submission deadline on Tuesday, but declined to say how much Ericsson was willing to pay.

Reports have suggested that Ericsson's offer is worth US$730 million, which would make it the highest known official offer yet, while the lowest is the "stalking horse" bid of US$650-million from Nokia Siemens.

"We will pursue the opportunity to the point that it makes sense," said Ericsson's Kathy Egan in an interview.

"It's an interesting opportunity and we're always looking for ways to create value for Ericsson."

The Swedish technology vendor, a long-time direct competitor with Nortel as a supplier to phone companies and other communications carriers, has a major research and development facility in Montreal and has been the primary supplier to the Rogers wireless networks.

So far, two other bidders have confirmed they will participate in the auction for Nortel assets.

New York-based MatlinPatterson offered US$725 million and wants to buy other assets to create a "new Nortel," while Nokia Siemens, a joint venture of Finnish cellphone maker Nokia Corp. (NYSE:NOK) and German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG (NYSE:SI) is offering US$650-million.

Nortel refuses to confirm if other bidders plan to participate in the auction, but haven't made a public announcement

Waterloo, Ont.-based Research In Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM), maker of the BlackBerry products, has complained that it was shut out of the bidding process because it wouldn't agree to certain terms of the auction set by bankruptcy courts in Canada and the U.S.