FTC ends Cisco inquiry

The Federal Trade Commission ends its investigation into whether Cisco approached Lucent and Nortel about illegally splitting the market for telecom gear.

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After several months of investigations, the Federal Trade Commission has decided to end its probe into whether Cisco Systems approached two rivals, Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks, about illegally splitting the market for telecommunications gear.

An FTC spokeswoman today confirmed that the FTC's investigation of Cisco has been closed, and declined to comment further on the matter.

Santa Clara, California-based Cisco, a leader in the computer network-equipment industry, said in a statement that the FTC had determined that nothing in the discussions between the industry players warranted further examination.

Last September, Cisco said that the FTC had requested information regarding separate discussions it had with Lucent and Nortel about potential business opportunities to serve emerging communications markets.

As previously reported, Cisco had said its talks with the two companies was an effort on its part to bring new products to market through internal partnerships, but the FTC had decided to investigate whether Cisco had colluded with others to divide up the rapidly changing networking market.

Last October, Joseph Krauss, assistant director of the FTC's premerger notification office, had told CNET News.com that the agency is concerned when mergers and acquisitions may increase the potential for collusion by reducing the number of players in a given market.

During the FTC's investigation, Cisco had denied any wrongdoing in its discussions with Lucent and Nortel, emphasizing that its talks with the two industry players was to push growth in the communications markets.

"We're pleased with the FTC decision," Dan Scheinman, vice president for legal and governmental affairs and general counsel said in today's statement. "Cisco took the FTC's questions seriously and fully cooperated with this routine inquiry. Cisco respects the important role the FTC plays."