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Mitel Networks chairman Terence Matthews (R) shares a laugh with CEO Don Smith in Ottawa

DAVE CHAN

After trying but failing to go public four years ago, Mitel Networks Corp. is taking another shot at an IPO.

The telecommunications firm based in Kanata, Ont., is expected to begin trading today after a 10.5-million-share offering designed to raise about $180-million for Mitel, which has a strong presence in the communications market for small and medium-sized businesses, but has rarely turned a profit.

Mitel previously attempted to launch an IPO in 2006, but held off after acquiring Inter-Tel for $729.9-million.

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Mitel specializes in systems and tools that enable voice, data and video communications. It is the brainchild of Sir Terence Matthews, a billionaire high-tech entrepreneur who has founded more than 60 companies.

Since it was incorporated in 2001, Mitel has seen only one profitable year.

In its regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the firm also cautions that it is entering the public market at a time when many of its competitors have deeper pockets and more recognition.

"The market for our solutions is highly competitive," Mitel states in the filing.

"Several of our existing competitors have, and many of our future potential competitors may have, greater financial, personnel, research, project management and other resources, more well-established brands or reputations and broader customer bases than we have. As a result, these competitors may be in a stronger position to respond more quickly to potential acquisitions and other market opportunities, new or emerging technologies and changes in customer requirements."

Mitel lists several current competitors, including Avaya Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. But the company adds that other big players, including Microsoft and Google, may also try for a piece of the same market.

Competition from big-name firms, as well as a wave of consolidation, poses a significant threat to Mitel, said Francis Gaskins of IPOdesktop.

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Mitel expects its common shares to begin trading between $18 and $22.

The company's shares will trade on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol MITL.

The company plans to use the IPO proceeds to pay down its debt. According to regulatory filings, Mitel had loans and credit facilities totalling about $440-million as of the beginning of this year.

In recent years, Ottawa has largely lost the title of Silicon Valley North to Waterloo, Ont., where giants such as Research in Motion and Google have set up some of their biggest Canadian operations. As a result, the city's IPO activity has also dropped.

However Mitel's IPO comes during the busiest week of North American activity since before the global recession hit in 2008.

Seven companies will look to raise money this week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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"Investors are more willing to look at IPOs," Mr. Gaskins said, attributing the shift to the continuing global recovery.

"There was a time when people looked at previous sales and earnings, but they're now willing to look a little further out."

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