Starent Shareholders OK Cisco Deal

Starent investors approve Cisco's $2.9 billion acquisition of the mobile gear maker. The deal is designed to give Cisco more traction in the mobile Internet space as the number of smartphones and other connected devices grows. The relative ease of the Starent acquisition has contrasted with Cisco's more volatile bid to buy video conferencing equipment maker Tandberg.

Now that's the way Cisco Systems likes its acquisitions to go.

Starent Networks, which makes infrastructure products for wireless service providers such as AT&T and Verizon, announced that shareholders had at a special meeting Dec. 11 in Boston approved the proposed $2.9 billion acquisition by Cisco.

The deal, which still has to get approval from regulators, is expected to close in the first half of 2010.

The Starent acquisition, first announced Oct. 13, is going along much more smoothly than Cisco's attempt to buy video conferencing equipment maker Tandberg.

In that deal, announced Oct. 1, Cisco has had to raise the bid to $3.4 billion and extend its deadline several times before finally gaining control of enough of the company's stock to go ahead with the purchase.

Cisco announced Dec. 3 that it finally had gained the desired 90 percent of Tandberg shares.

Starent was able to stave off investor lawsuits filed by shareholders unhappy with the price being offered by Cisco.

The Starent acquisition is one of several Cisco is making as it looks to expand beyond its traditional networking business. With Starent, Cisco aims to extend its reach in the mobile Internet space as the smartphones and other Web-connected devices used by consumers and businesses proliferate.

Cisco officials predict that global data traffic on the Internet will more than double every year through at least 2013.

Along with Tandberg, another big purchase by Cisco in 2009 was of Flip video camera maker Pure Digital, in May for about $590 million.

Cisco CEO John Chambers and other officials have said the company will continue its aggressive acquisitions as it branches out into other markets.