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UPDATE 3-Cisco gets Tandberg shares after fierce battle
December 4, 2009 / 11:21 AM / in 8 years

UPDATE 3-Cisco gets Tandberg shares after fierce battle

* Controls over 90 percent of Tandberg

* Bought 2 percent of shares in November

* To buy out remaining shareholders

* U.S. justice department makes second info request

(Adds fund manager interview, Norway tech sector details)

By Richard Solem

OSLO, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) won control over more than 90 percent of Norwegian target Tandberg TAA.OL, allowing it to squeeze out remaining shareholders, and create the world leader in videoconferencing equipment.

Cisco’s original bid was rejected by over 90 percent of Tandberg shareholders, forcing it to repeatedly extend its offer deadline and raise its bid by 10 percent last month.

Portfolio manager Hogne Tyssoy at Holberg Funds was one who first objected the deal, but has now accepted the 170 crowns per share offer.

“Cisco is one of a few companies internationally that can take the company further to another level,” Tyssoy said.

Tandberg is the leading videoconferencing equipment maker, filling a gap between Cisco’s high-end TelePresence conferencing products and WebEx desktop video service. Tandberg holds 40 percent of the mid-tier market for videoconferencing, according to Wainhouse Research.

While Cisco repeatedly threatened to walk away, most analysts expected it to ensure the deal went through, since the leading network equipment maker repeatedly touted videoconferencing as a key growth business.

Cisco said on Friday it had 89.1 percent acceptance for its 19 billion Norwegian crowns ($3.38 billion) offer in addition to 2 percent of Tandberg, or 2.2 million shares, it bought in November.

“They have over 90 percent and can squeeze out the rest, so this deal will happen,” said analyst Andre Adolfsen at Nordea.

By 1348 GMT, shares in Tandberg were up 0.4 percent higher at 163.8 crowns. Shares in Cisco were up 0.9 percent at $24.05 in premarket trading.

Cisco said on Friday it intends to respond expeditiously to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) request for additional information about the deal, and to continue to work cooperatively with the DOJ in connection with its review.

Analysts and traders said winning the regulatory approvals for the deal should not cause any problems.

NORWEGIAN STORY - WHOSE NEXT?

“It is sad that we are losing also Tandberg, it’s the latest in a line of the leading, and somehow unique, Norwegian technology companies that disappear,” said Tyssoy of Holberg Funds.

Global heavyweights have bought up a number of Norwegian technology firms in recent years, with Microsoft (MSFT.O) buying Fast Search & Transfer, Nokia NOK1V.HE acquiring Trolltech and Ericsson (ERICb.ST) taking over Tandberg Television.

“This is sad, and illustrates the challenges with a small economy like the Norwegian, with one dominant and profitable sector -- the oil sector. Building other business clusters is challenging,” Tyssoy said.

“We have had very few technology firms that have been given the opportunity to become global leaders. Norway’s good at innovation and taking it to a certain stage, but without a big business cluster, it is diffult to build something lasting.”

Among the remaining Norwegian technology firms, mobile browser maker Opera Software (OPERA.OL) and TV graphics firm Vizrt RTZR.DE are seen as potential takeover candidates. ($1=5.621 Norwegian Crown) (Reporting by Richard Solem; Writing by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Dan Lalor and Simon Jessop)

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