Cisco Systems is in advanced discussions to acquire NDS Group, a supplier of security and software solutions for pay TV operators, for $5 billion, Israel's Calcalist business newspaper reported Thursday.
The deal would represent a major redoubling of Cisco's efforts to serve cable, satellite and telco TV operators, and its biggest acquisition in the sector since its $6.9 billion takeover of Scientific Atlanta, which closed in February 2006.
NDS completed a transaction to go private in early 2009. Private equity firm Permira Funds owns 51% of the company, and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. holds a 49% stake.
The reported $5 billion price tag for NDS is 35% higher than the company's value when it went private in 2009, according to the Hebrew-language Calcalist.
NDS customers worldwide include Comcast, Cablevision Systems, Cox Communications, DirecTV, BSkyB, China Central Television, Kabel Deutschland, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia and Liberty Global's UPC. According to NDS, its VideoGuard conditional-access system has been deployed in 114 million pay-TV households, while its middleware is in use on some 206 million devices.
London-based NDS, founded in 1988 by a group of Israeli computer scientists, has more than 5,000 employees, with development centers in France, India, Israel, Korea, the U.K. and the United States.
In July 2011, NDS hired former Sonic Solutions chief Dave Habiger as CEO, replacing Abe Peled, who after 16 years leading the company assumed the role of executive chairman. Peled is expected to retire this July.
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