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Cisco Strikes Deal to Sell Off Video Software Business

Cisco Systems has agreed to sell its Service Provider Video Software Solutions (SPVSS) to Permira, a private equity firm with ties to Dr. Abe Peled, the former chairman and CEO of NDS.

Financial terms were not announced, but Bloomberg said Permira is acquiring the SPVSS unit from Cisco for about $1 billion, a fraction of the $5 billion Cisco spent to acquire NDS, a maker of video software and video security technologies, about six years ago. Cisco isn't commenting on the financials or how many employees are part of the unit that's subject to the sale. 

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Reports that Cisco’s video software unit was on the block surfaced last fall.

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Under the deal announced Tuesday, Permira Funds will create a new, rebranded video software company focused on the pay TV market. Peled, an adviser to Permira Funds, will serve as chairman of the new company.

As part of its acquisition of Cisco’s SPVSS business, Permira will obtain Cisco’s Infinite Video Platform (a multiscreen video platform that was formerly branded as Videoscape), and as well as products that include cloud-based digital video recording, video processing, video security, video middleware and some services groups focused on this area.

Update:Reuters reported that the U.K.-based unit that Permira is acquiring has about 3,500 employees. Peled told Reuters that the business being acquired is profitable but didn’t elaborate on those details. “They [Permira] see opportunity for creating value through innovation and growth,” Peled told Reuters.  

Cisco said it will retain video and media technology tied to its “core business” in networking, multi-cloud, security, data, and collaboration.

The sale represents another alteration in Cisco’s service provider business, which was down about 5% in the company’s fiscal Q2 period. In late 2015, Cisco sold off a connected devices unit that made set-tops, cable modems and other consumer premises equipment, to Technicolor, for about $600 million.

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Example of a TV-based user interface from Cisco's Infinite Video Platform 

Example of a TV-based user interface from Cisco's Infinite Video Platform 

Examples of customers that use Cisco’s Infinite Video Platform (IVP) include Vodafone (for its GigaTV service in Germany), Canada’s Eastlink, and Israel’s YES. 

Of recent note, Cisco has been using IVP to head up an initiative that targets service providers that deliver pay TV services with Mediaroom, the IPTV platform acquired by Ericsson in 2013. Ericsson has since sold a majority stake in its Media Solution division, which includes Mediaroom, to One Equity Partners. 

RELATED: Cisco Attacks Ericsson’s Mediaroom Market

Cisco’s board has approved the sale of the SPVSS business. The deal is expected to close during Cisco’s Q1 for fiscal 2019.

“I’m very pleased to say that one of the major reasons for the selection of Permira is the belief that they are the right investor to benefit our customers and employees,” Yvette Kanouff, SVP and GM of Cisco’s Service Provider Business, said in this blog post about the transaction. “At the same time, Cisco will be able to clearly focus on its core priorities.”

"This is a unique opportunity to lead and shape the video industry during its transition with the flexibility as a private company," Peled said, in a statement. "The new company will have the scale, technology innovation, and world-class team to deliver outstanding go-to-market execution, customer engagement, and new end-user experiences.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as financial adviser to the Permira Funds and provided committed financing; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobsen LLP and Clifford Chance LLP acted as legal advisor to the Permira Funds.