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Cisco’s elusive acquisition strategy

These days, Cisco’s name in the news is generally accompanied by major acquisition speculation (read EMC or VMware). But anyone looking for something more concrete may have an easier time finding affordable gas.

Wednesday morning Cisco senior vice president and corporate controller Jonathan Chadwick spoke at the Citibank Citi Technology Conference where analysts were on the hunt for potential acquisition tidbits.

In perfect Cisco executive form, Chadwick dropped just enough info to keep folks questioning … and nothing more.

Whetting VMware hopes, Chadwick marked virtualization as the most important destination on Cisco’s roadmap, noting its role in the emergence of enterprise video and the enabling of converged network access via any device.

“When you think about the underpinning of all of that … the network empowers all of it and that is what virtualization is for,” Chadwick said.

Analysts were quick to grill Chadwick on Cisco’s acquisition strategy, specifically inquiring about whether it would buy its way into market adjacencies.

Chadwick confirmed that Cisco would, in fact, buy its way into technologies that would “round out” current offerings, but that it would also keep the emphasis on building in-house.

Asked why the number of Cisco acquisitions has fallen this year (Cisco purchased only four companies this year compared to 11 last year), Chadwick replied: “I would not read anything into that.” He added, “It’s about buying a company that we can insert into our technology portfolio.”

When pressed to expound on the size or type of company Cisco might acquire, Chadwick said: “There are very few companies that can pull off a like-for-like [acquisition].” Cisco’s moves will be in the medium to small space, he added, but he would not “rule out” deals with companies of other sizes.
Clearly, the speculation continues.

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