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Cisco Systems today announced the acquisition of Latitude Communications, an enterprise conferencing firm, for approx $80m in stock.

Cisco will assimilate Latitude’s MeetingPlace audio and web conferencing technology into its IP communications portfolio.

Latitude's business will become part of Cisco's Voice Technology Group, and its products will be sold under the Cisco brand. The deal is expected to close next January.

Now for a quote from Don Proctor, veep for Cisco's Voice Technology Group, concerning Latitude's import to the company. But first a Reg challenge. Check out how good your lungs are by reading aloud the sentences below in bold. Draw breath only when you have finished the first sentence. And of course when you have finished the second.

This acquisition will enable Cisco to accelerate delivery of intelligent multimedia conferencing solutions which take advantage of dynamic network information — such as presence and location data about network users — to improve workplace productivity.

Basing these products on industry standards, such as SIP, H.323 and XML, ensures solutions that seamlessly integrate voice and video conferencing, as well as emerging technologies such as instant messaging and data collaboration.

Cisco is returning to its buying ways. It bought 23 companies in 2000, but only two in 2001 and five in 2002. Other significant buy-ups this year including the acquisition of consumer networking firm Linksys for $500 million in March and behaviour-blocking firm Okena for $154 million in January. ®

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