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Cisco to set Amteva free

The networking giant, which usually acquires companies, is now looking to sell or spin off one, a company executive says.

Cisco Systems, which historically has acquired companies, is now looking to sell or spin off one, a company executive said.

Gartner analyst Drew Kraus says the spin off of Amteva Technologies makes good sense for Cisco Systems, but Amteva may find life on its own difficult.

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The networking giant is seeking to unload Amteva Technologies, a software company Cisco acquired for $170 million two years ago, said James Richardson, senior vice president of Cisco's enterprise line of business.

"What we're trying to do is make it a freestanding entity," Richardson said in an interview during the Networld+Interop trade show in Las Vegas.

Cisco, which in recent years has bought more than 20 companies a year to fuel its growth, has struggled in recent quarters because of the U.S. economic downturn.

Amteva, which builds software that lets people check voice mail, e-mail and faxes from a single device, was one of four product lines Cisco recently killed as part of a companywide restructuring because they weren't generating immediate revenue.

The company last month discontinued the optical router it gained from its 1999 purchase of Monterey Networks. Cisco also axed video products from its acquisition of PixStream and discontinued Internet-based networking equipment that it acquired from buying Israel-based Hynex.

If sold, Amteva probably will be the first sell-off for Cisco, a company spokesman said. Among the other products that were discontinued, PixStream could be a sale candidate, although no firm decisions have been made, according to the company.

Richardson said a couple hundred Cisco employees work on the Amteva product.

Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers last month said the company still plans to acquire companies, but the company has become more selective and will wait until the economy picks up again.