Tandberg Shareholders Reject Cisco $3B Offer

Tandberg shareholders have rejected a $3 billion bid by Cisco to buy the Norwegian video conferencing equipment maker, apparently looking for a higher offer from Cisco or an-other company. They also appear ready to keep the company independent, according to a Swedish brokerage that represents almost two dozen shareholders. Cisco officials must now decide whether to up their bid or cut off the pursuit of Tandberg, which they hope will boost their telepresence capabilities.

Shareholders of Tandberg reportedly have rejected a $3 billion offer from Cisco Systems for the Norwegian video conferencing equipment maker, apparently holding out for a higher bid from the networking giant or another company.

According to SEB Enskilda, a Swedish brokerage that represents 21 Tandberg shareholders, investors who hold 24 percent of the shares in Tandberg turned down Cisco's offer early Oct. 15, two weeks after Cisco tendered the offer.

In a statement to the Oslo Stock Exchange, SEB Enskilda said that the shareholders "are convinced that Tandberg will generate strong returns as an independent company, but are open to evaluate a higher offer from Cisco or a third party."

Cisco representatives have declined comment on the shareholder decision, citing an ongoing tender offer.

Video conferencing has been a key focus for Cisco, which has made it one of more than 30 market segments-or "adjacencies," as officials have called them-that the company's target, each one of which officials say could become a $1 billion business.

Cisco CEO John Chambers has talked about video conferencing as a key technology that will increase collaboration among disparate groups while helping reduce travel expenses. Cisco itself uses teleconferencing extensively for major corporate meetings and to launch new products as an alternative to spending the money to fly people in from around the world.

Tandberg has created its Total Telepresence product line, what officials call an "immersive" video conferencing experience that includes 65-inch screens, distinctive blue lighting and other features to create an environment that feels as through all the participants are in the same room, rather than spread out around the globe.

The company earlier this year rolled out its T3 offering for meetings among large numbers of people. On Oct. 14, Tandberg unveiled its T1 offering, a product designed for smaller meetings or regional offices that offers the same features as the T3.

Tandberg is one of several major acquisitions Cisco is looking to make as it aggressively expands beyond its networking roots. Two weeks after making its all-cash bid for Tandberg, Cisco Oct. 13 announced a $2.9 billion cash offer for Starent Networks, a mobile infrastructure company. Cisco is looking to grow is capabilities in the burgeoning mobile Internet space.

During a conference call regarding the Starent bid, Cisco officials said the company would continue to aggressively pursue acquisitions to complement internal innovation and partnerships.