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Cisco totes up 21st acquisition of the year

In spite of a muddling stock price, the networking powerhouse continues its buying spree with plans to acquire the Net communications division of Active Voice in a deal worth $266 million.

In spite of a muddling stock price, Cisco Systems continued its buying spree Friday, announcing plans to acquire the Internet communications division of Active Voice in a deal worth $266 million.

Based in Seattle, Active Voice builds unified messaging systems that combine voice, email and fax messages into a single Internet mailbox.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco will pay about $266 million in stock for Active Voice's Unity division, according to the terms of the agreement. The networking giant also will pay $30 million in stock for the messaging company's voice mail business after the acquisition is made final, a milestone expected in the second quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2001.

Cisco expects a onetime charge of no more than 2 cents per share for research and development costs, the company said.

At the 1 p.m. PST close of regular trading, Active Voice's stock price was up $4.12 to $19.06 on news of the deal, while Cisco's share price fell $3.19 to $50.06. Cisco traded at almost $70 in July.

The deal--Cisco's 21st acquisition of 2000--is part of the company's efforts to combine its voice, video and text messaging technologies and to include unified messaging in its strategy for Internet Protocol telephony, the company said.

Cisco is known for gobbling up companies in a drive to fill holes in its technology portfolio. Ever since it widened its earlier router focus to build a multibillion-dollar switching business, the company has used its high-flying stock to buy its way into new market niches.

The company is on track to purchase as many as 25 companies this year, up from its rate of between 15 and 20 companies annually for the past few years.