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October 30, 2009

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Cisco Reportedly Ready to Dump $3B Tandberg Bid

Two weeks after Tandberg shareholders said they won’t approve the pending $3 billion purchase by Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), the deal could be history.

Numerous media reported on Friday that Cisco will walk away from its offer for Tandberg if investors controlling 90 percent of the videoconferencing equipment maker don’t bless the transaction.

But some financial analysts weren’t convinced. They think Cisco’s alleged threat is a strategic move.

“I think it’s quite unlikely that they’ll drop their offer, everything points to them buying Tandberg,” Martin Hoff, an Arctic Securities ASA analyst, told Bloomberg. “It’s probably smart of them to send some signals to scare the shareholders into accepting the offer.”

Michiel Plakman at Robeco NV agreed.

“I think it’s tactics with regards to the investors that actually want a slightly higher bid for Tandberg,” Bloomberg quoted Plakman as saying.

Still, there’s enough uncertainty over who knows what about the transaction that Norway’s stock exchange, Oslo Bourse, halted trading of Tandberg shares on Friday. Exchange officials are looking into whether some insiders “have access to different information in relation to evaluating the value of the company’s shares,” Oslo Bourse said in a prepared statement.

Cisco announced on Oct. 1 it would buy Tandberg. The purchase price amounted to an 11 percent premium over Tandberg’s closing pricing on Sept. 30, and a 25 percent premium over Tandberg shares’ three-month average. Dissident shareholders, however, have held up the deal. Swedish brokerage SEB Enskilda owns 24 percent of Tandberg’s stock and wants a higher price from Cisco. Cisco needs 90 percent of shareholders to approve the offer for it to close.

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