Nortel briefly loses title as Canada's biggest company

Nortel Networks, once so dominant on the Canadian business scene that it was more than 10 times bigger than the next largest company, was surpassed for a time by Royal Bank Friday as the largest firm in Canada.

At 12:35 p.m. ET, Nortel was down 35 cents at $11.33 a share. With 3.1867 billion shares outstanding, that gave the company a market capitalization of $36.105 billion.

Royal Bank at that time was trading at $52.81 a share, down 21 cents. With 684.38 million shares outstanding, Royal's market capitalization worked out to $36.142 billion, $37 million more than Nortel's.

By the close of trading, Nortel was still at $11.33, but Royal had slipped to $52.50, giving it a market cap of $35.929 billion allowing Nortel to retake the number one position.

Nortel's well-documented slide began a year ago. When it was trading at $124.50 a share, its market cap was more than $380 billion. That made it far and away the most valuable company in the TSE 300 Composite Index. At its peak, Nortel made up almost 35 per cent of the value of the TSE 300. The other 299 companies accounted for the other two-thirds or so.

Back then, when Nortel moved, the TSE 300 moved in lock-step. Such was its "weight" that Nortel alone could move the index on its own. No longer.

Standard & Poor's, which calculates the relative weightings of the various stocks that make up the TSE 300 Composite Index, reports that Nortel and Royal's weighting in the benchmark index are now both about 5 per cent.

Royal Bank shares, in stark contrast to Nortel, set a new 52-week high Friday, trading at $53.10.