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Cisco buys IronPort to push into anti-spam market

Pays $830m for heavyweight spam squasher

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Networking giant Cisco Systems has agreed to buy email filtering and web security firm IronPort Systems for $830m in cash and shares. The deal, expected to close in Cisco's third quarter ending April 2007, pushes Cisco into the anti-spam market for the first time. The acquisition is Cisco's fifth largest to date, Reuters reports.

IronPort, founded in 2000 and with a workforce of around 408, markets a line of IronPort anti-spam and gateway security appliance appliances as well as running an email reputation service called SenderBase. It also sells technologies designed to limit the spread of viral outbreaks.

IronPort recorded sales of $25m for the quarter to August 2006, its last available figures, so Cisco's purchase price would appear quite high even though it has a long history of successfully using acquisitions to boost its profitability by entering adjacent markets in networking and security.

Although well-known for its PIX firewall, VPN, network access control, policy management and intrusion prevention products, Cisco has previously held back from entering the market for technologies that filter out junk mail.

Cisco said that it would retain IronPort's existing channel structure post-acquisition, when IronPort will become a business unit in Cisco's Security Technology Group. ®

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