Swedish telecom company Ericsson has apparently won the bidding war for Nortel's wireless division with a US$1.3 billion offer.

Ericsson President and CEO Carl-Henric Svanberg said the purchase would add 2,500 employees to the company, of which 400 are focused on LTE research and development.

But beyond the monetary figures, the sale has a human side - including 50,000 pensioners around the world fearing the worst as the former telecom giant winds down operations.

Canadians in this group total about 19,000. They worry about a $2 to $3-billion shortfall in the Nortel pension fund, plus angling by the U.S. and British governments to grab money from Canadian assets to cover their own pension shortfalls.

That could mean a 30-per-cent cut to benefits for pensioners, many of whom are seniors receiving a monthly average of $1,200.

"Our little law firm is working to protect (us) from these government behemoths, and I think we are just going to be run over," said Connie Walsh, a long-term disability pensioner worried about losing everything.

"There is huge anger out there with people who have seen what has been done in other sectors, and here this government has done nothing," said Dave Jeanes, another pensioner helping with the volunteer committee working on the issue.

Last week, Nortel issued its first note with pension cheques warning of a looming cut to benefits. The Ontario government refuses to top up a pension shortfall fund. A national review of pensions is underway but no firm help as of yet.

Carol Sampson receives her long-term disability payments from Nortel instead of an insurance program and is also worried about losing her sustenance. Her drug bills are massive due to several medical problems.

"It's my whole life at stake here and I'm scared," Sampson said. "I don't feel well enough to even look for a new place to live. I don't know what's in my future.

"Do I have faith? No - I think we will be left out in the cold and that is just an awful thought."

Sue Kennedy helped form the Canadian Nortel Employees on Long Term Disability Association to help those like Sampson and herself - and is also pessimistic.

"I feel like we are political hot potatoes and we are just passed around among the federal and provincial people because no one wants to get stuck with us. And we will just fall to the ground," she said.

Kennedy pointed to similar circumstances for Eaton's workers 10 years ago when the storied retailer collapsed.

The purchase is on a cash and debt-free basis and includes the CDMA and LTE wireless units of Nortel's Carrier Networks division.

Ericsson beat out industry giants such as MatlinPatterson and Nokia Siemens in an auction that took place Friday in New York City.

The Nortel deal still must be approved by the Canadian government and by bankruptcy courts in both Canada and the United States.

Rulings on the purchase in both courts are expected next week.

The only objection so far has come from Research In Motion, which alleged it was shut out of the auction after it raised objections to the bidding process. Despite its complaints, RIM made an informal bid of US $1.1 billion.