Nortel Networks Corp. announced Friday it is involved in a stalking horse deal to sell its multi-service switches to a group funded by California-based Marlin Equity Partners.

The press release from Nortel lists Samnite Technologies Inc. of Ottawa as being one of the partners involved in buying the product line. A google search did not yield much on Samnite, but Network World Canada spoke briefly with its CEO, Patrick Di Pietro.

Di Pietro could not say much because this potential US$39 million deal is in the early stages.

In fact, Samnite may not get the Nortel business at all, because a stalking horse deal really sets the stage for a public auction, if anyone else is willing to place a higher bid.

Di Pietro was a director at Bell Northern Research from 1993-95. From 2001 until recently, he was with VenGrowth Capital Partners Inc., retiring as managing general partner.

One of the companies VenGrowth started was Sandvine Inc. which makes deep packet inspection technologies.