Cisco uses cash hoard to buy Norwegian co. for $3B

Oct 01, 2009 By IAN MACDOUGALL , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- Cisco Systems Inc. tapped its immense cash hoard and announced a deal Thursday to buy Norway's Tandberg ASA for $3 billion in a bid to dominate the global market for videoconferencing equipment.

Cisco is paying twice the value of the entire global annual market for videoconferencing equipment, at about $1.5 billion a year. But the fact that Tandberg is a Norwegian company allows Cisco to use an asset that's otherwise not very useful: the cash that has been piling up in its overseas subsidiaries.

Cisco, the world's largest maker of computer networking equipment, had a cash balance of more than $35 billion at the end of July, most of that overseas. By buying an international company, Cisco is avoiding the U.S. taxes it would have to pay to bring the money home. The all-cash deal is Cisco's first acquisition of an overseas public company, CEO John Chambers said.

Chambers said the acquisition "showcases Cisco's financial strength and ability to quickly capture key market transitions for growth."

Cisco has been focusing on the high end of the videoconferencing market, selling so-called "TelePresence" systems with multiple plasma screens that present life-size images of the participants to provide the illusion of face-to-face communication.

With Tandberg, Cisco gets the leading maker of video systems that range from small "videophones" to full conference-room setups.

Tandberg, which already has a substantial U.S. presence, had 40 percent of the global videoconferencing market in the second quarter this year, according to Wainhouse Research.

The No. 2 is Pleasanton, Calif.-based Polycom Inc., with 34 percent. Polycom was until recently the biggest supplier of videoconferencing gear, but has seen its lead overtaken by Tandberg thanks to smart, aggressive marketing and a strong product lineup, according Wainhouse analyst Ira Weinstein.

"It's hard to say anything negative about Tandberg," Weinstein said. "This company knows how to do this."

Chambers said video communications is a key growth area, and getting Tandberg's product lineup will let Cisco further speed up adoption of the technology.

Cisco's most recent major acquisition was also video-oriented: It bought San Francisco-based Pure Digital Technologies Inc., maker of the popular Flip camcorders, for $590 million.

Sales of videoconferencing equipment have held up relatively well in the global economic downturn, as companies look for ways to save travel dollars. Wainhouse said the industry's second-quarter sales were down just 6 percent from a year ago. Meanwhile, Cisco's TelePresence sales nearly doubled year-over-year in its latest quarter, which ended July 25.

Tandberg employs 1,500 people globally, with joint headquarters in Oslo and New York. It said in a statement that the proposal was recommended by a unanimous vote of its board of directors. The acquisition is expected to close in the first half of 2010. Tandberg CEO Fredrik Halvorsen would continue to lead the group.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is offering 153.50 kroner ($26.50) per share for Tandberg's stock, an 11 percent premium on Wednesday's closing share price. In the afternoon, the company's shares were trading just under the offering price in Oslo, indicating that investors expect the deal to go through at that price.

Cisco shares fell 28 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $23.26 in morning trading Thursday.

U.S.-listed shares of Radvision Ltd., an Israeli company that collaborates with Cisco on videoconferencing equipment, fell $3.12, or 35 percent, to $5.74. Chambers, however, emphasized that the goal was for Cisco to maintain its partnerships with other videoconferencing companies.

Polycom shares rose 94 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $27.69. Stifel Nicolaus analyst Sanjiv Wadhwani speculated that the Cisco-Tandberg deal will bring Polycom into collaboration with Hewlett-Packard Co., which competes with Cisco for conference-room video setups.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cisco buys Flip Video maker

Mar 19, 2009

US networking giant Cisco Systems Inc. announced on Thursday it was buying Pure Digital Technologies, maker of the popular Flip Video camcorder, in a deal worth more than 600 million dollars.

The Cisco bid: To branch out while others retrench

Apr 05, 2009

(AP) -- On the surface, there doesn't seem to be much of a connection between the servers that run corporate data centers and a handheld video camera you use to film family vacations. Yet both have somehow become part of ...

Tandberg: Be there now

Apr 12, 2006

For global videoconferencing company Tandberg, the company slogan of "Be there now" is more than just a motto -- it's almost a calling.

Cisco announces its first servers, riling rivals

Mar 16, 2009

(AP) -- Cisco Systems Inc. wants a bigger chunk of the corporate computing market, and plans to start selling servers in competition with old partners like Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp.

Recommended for you

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

32 minutes ago

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Sony faces 4th ex-employee lawsuit over hack

5 hours ago

A former director of technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment has sued the company over the data breach that resulted in the online posting of his private financial and personal information.

Sony tells AFP it still plans movie release

6 hours ago

Sony Pictures boss Michael Lynton denied Friday the Hollywood studio has "caved" by canceling the release of "The Interview," and said it still hoped to release the controversial film.

2012 movie massacre hung over 'Interview' decision

20 hours ago

When a group claiming credit for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment threated violence against theaters showing "The Interview" earlier this week, the fate of the movie's big-screen life was all but ...

Clooney slams skittish Hollywood after Sony hack

Dec 19, 2014

Film star George Clooney slammed the Hollywood movie industry for failing to stand up against the cyber threats that prompted Sony Pictures to cancel release of the movie "The Interview."

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.