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EU allows Cisco to buy NDS



Network giants most expensive buy


Cisco has won unconditional EU regulatory approval to buy TV software developer NDS. With a $5 billion price tag it is the largest purchace that Cisco has ever made and will reinforce its presence in the video communications market.

NDS is more than half owned by private equity fund Permira with the rest by News Corp. It makes software that allows cable and satellite TV companies to deliver encrypted content through televisions and other devices. NDS' flagship product, VideoGuard, which is installed on home TVs via smartcards in set-top boxes, is being used to complement Cisco's video offerings because it allows television operators to extend their pay-TV services to other media devices while ensuring content cannot be hacked by non-paying customers.

There had been concerns that the deal would make Cisco “too significant a player” in the European market. But it looks like the Commission did not think it raised competition concerns. "The Commission's investigation confirmed that the merged entity would continue to face competition from a number of strong competitors and that customers, namely pay-TV providers, would continue to have alternative suppliers in all markets concerned," the EU watchdog said in a statement.

NDS' users include BSkyB and Sky Italia in Europe, and Cablevision Systems, Comcast and Rogers Communications in the US.

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