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Cisco takes comfort in misery of others

Firesale buying spree is on

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Cisco Systems is to go on a shopping spree, accelerating its company-acquisition efforts at a time when the Meltdown has depressed equity values worldwide.

Tech companies are a bargain these days. IBM, meanwhile, is unhappy that the Cisco networking giant has turned its attention to server blades - witness IBM's interest in buying Sun Microsystems.

With good deals to be had and the need for some tough talking against IBM, Bloomberg has quoted Cisco's senior vice president of corporate development and the company's consumer group, Ned Hooper, as saying about Cisco's acquisitions efforts: "We will be active - not hope to be - will be."

And with $29.5bn (£20bn) in cash, Cisco is well-positioned in this buyer's market. Armed with that kind of ready money and with company values being cheap, it's a good time for the company to go shopping.

As Hooper put it: "The downturn for us is a big positive."

It remains to be seen, however, how the company will spend its cash. Will it buy up support systems for its new "California" Unified Computer System line? Maybe shore up its consumer-level brand recognition, as it appears was one goal of its recent purchase of that YouTuber's delight, Pure Digital's camcorder-for-the-masses, the Flip?

Or possibly it will simply continue to build its IT-infrastructure offerings, like it did with its January acquisition of Richards-Zeta Building Intelligence, an energy-monitoring middleware developer.

We do know of a rather large and reasonably affordable California-based systems company that happens to compete with IBM and is going for around $8.50 a share - if you can win over its former chief executive that is.

Stay tuned. A corporate wallet stuffed with $29.5bn can buy a lot of struggling companies. Along with a lot of business-press headlines.®

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