Cisco wins Tandberg with 91.1% stake

Hard-fought battle ends with Cisco picking up video conferencing leader

After a hard-fought battle, Cisco has won control of video conferencing leader Tandberg with ownership of 91.1% of the company's shares.

Cisco had to raise its initial $3 billion offer and extend the acceptance deadline three times in order to gain control of the company. Cisco's initial offer, made on Oct. 1, was rejected by more than 90% of Tandberg shareholders.

Late Thursday, at the expiration of the third acceptance deadline, Cisco said it controlled 89.1% of Tandberg shares. The condition for ownership of the company was control of 90% of Tandberg shares, but Cisco waived this condition based on a 2% stake it acquired in November, according to published reports.

Of the 140 or so acquisitions Cisco has made in the past 16 years, Tandberg was perhaps the most challenging. Two groups of shareholders controlling 30% of the company balked at the initial $3 billion offer. And then two investment firms representing other stakeholders issued a public letter to Cisco CEO John Chambers and Senior Vice President Ned Hooper stating that Cisco was undervaluing the company and spelling out specific reasons why it should hike its offer.

Cisco relented on Nov. 16, raising its offer for Tandberg to $3.4 billion and extending the acceptance deadline to Dec. 1 from Nov. 18. The Nov. 18 deadline had previously been extended from Nov. 9.

On Dec. 1, Cisco again extended the acceptance deadline by two days, to Dec. 3.

By acquiring Tandberg, Cisco is looking to fill out its desktop and midrange videoconferencing product portfolio. Its high-end TelePresence offerings can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are apparently too costly and elaborate to scale downmarket, as Cisco initially intended.

Cisco will also now become the market leader in videoconferencing. Tandberg is the current leader with about 40% share, ahead of Polycom, according to Wainhouse Research.

Cisco views video as the "killer app" that will fill up bandwidth and drive equipment upgrades into the next decade.

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