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A little light conversation between the bosses of Cisco and Nortel was enough to send takeover rumour merchants into hyper-spin.

A Nortel spokesman confirmed that Bill Owens, newly-appointed Nortel chief executive, and John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco, met last week after a telecoms conference in Canada in which both said their companies were open to partnerships. But he would not say if the meeting was pre-planned or discuss what they discussed.

Cisco last week bought Procket Networks, the hugely ambitious networking equipment start-up, for $89m in cash. Procket ran through $300m in VC funds to develop a line of high-end routers, but was unable to find favour with corporate customers.

Nortel is mired in an accountancy investigation and has still to file accounts for 2003. It also under investigation by the Stock Exchange Commission and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. ®

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