Economy & Finance

Cisco wins EU approval for $5 billion NDS acquisition

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. network equipment maker Cisco (CSCO.O ) won unconditional EU regulatory approval on Tuesday for its $5 billion takeover of TV software developer NDS, its largest ever, which will reinforce its presence in the video communications market.

NDS, which is 51 percent-owned by private equity fund Permira PERM.UL and 49 percent by News Corp (NWSA.O ), makes software that allows cable and satellite TV companies to deliver encrypted content through televisions and other devices.

Cisco has said NDS’ flagship product, VideoGuard, which is installed on home TVs via smartcards in set-top boxes, complements its 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.

Reuters reported on July 13 that the deal would be cleared by the European Commission without any conditions.

The European Commission said the deal would not raise 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 (BSY.L ) and Sky Italia in Europe, and Cablevision Systems Corp (CVC.N ), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O ) and Rogers Communications Inc. (RCIb.TO ) in North America.

The acquisition is Cisco’s biggest after its $3.3 billion buy of Norwegian conferencing company Tandberg in 2009.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee- editing by Barbara Lewis and Mark Potter)

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