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Network General to acquire toolmaker

The network analysis tool maker will acquire Cinco Networks, which sells Windows-based network management tools, for $27 million.

    Network General (NETG) announced that it has agreed to acquire Cinco Networks for $27 million in order to round out its line of network protocol analysis tools.

    As previously reported by CNET's NEWS.COM, the privately owned Pleasanton, California-based Cinco Networks makes Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows NT-based network management tools, consisting of an adapter card and software, that can capture and analyze traffic on a LAN (local area network). The tools can run on a typical PC or mobile computer. The company's products include analyzers for Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, 100VG-AnyLAN, and Token Ring technologies.

    Network General specializes in similar tools that cater to a wider variety of network topologies. They generally include server-based adapter cards that can feed a variety of information concerning network performance into a central management console, typically a Unix-based workstation.

    "The benefit for Network General and our customers is that it broadens the range of our offerings," said Cheryl Haines, the company's director of product marketing for its analysis tools business unit. "[The technology] is complementary; there are unique market needs."

    Network General officials said they expect the purchase to close by the end of August. Charges related to the acquisition will be accounted for in the company's current quarter. Possible contingency payments may increase the $27 million price tag.

    Adding a Windows-based desktop component for LANs may increase the company's share in accounts running Microsoft operating systems, according to industry observers.

    Network General's focus has been on network management and analysis tools that cater to large enterprise customers, but officials said small networks are looking for similar functions. "The entry-level subsegment is growing faster than some of the other segments," Haines noted.

    The play for Cinco follows the $20 million April acquisition of 3DV Technology, a company specializing in network analysis tools for the performance of hubs, switches, and routers.

    Network General said it expects to begin distributing Cinco products immediately after the acquisition closes.