Exclusive: Juniper mulls next move after asset sale talks falter - sources

Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:44pm EST
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By Nadia Damouni and Nicola Leske

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Juniper Networks Inc is reviewing its enterprise-focused networking business after talks fell through late last year to sell assets, including security unit NetScreen Technologies, several sources close to the matter told Reuters.

The world's No. 2 networking gear maker is mulling options that could include acquisitions to bolster the security and enterprise business, with a longer-term view of a sale or spin-off, two of the sources said. For acquisition financing it could decide to raise cash through a private sale of equity, the sources familiar with the company's thinking said.

From summer to fall of 2012, Sunnyvale, California-based Juniper discreetly contacted about half a dozen competitors to test the appetite for its assets that handle networking for enterprise clients, two sources close to the matter said.

At the time, rumors were rife that major storage provider EMC Corp was also in talks to buy Juniper. Since then, EMC CEO Joe Tucci has said the company is not interested in buying a networking company.

Investment banks have not been hired by Juniper to assist in the review, the sources said. Goldman Sachs has helped the company on prior deals.

A spokesman for Goldman declined to comment.

Among the assets pitched last fall was NetScreen, a maker of firewall technology that Juniper bought in 2004 for $4 billion. But the interest was underwhelming, the sources said, with parties walking away after concluding that Juniper's enterprise-oriented assets lacked innovation and growth.

The company, which in October announced a 5 percent cut in its workforce, declined to comment on what a spokeswoman called rumors and speculation. "We create value through organic innovation, complemented with acquisitions and partnerships," the spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters.   Continued...

A woman walks past a banner with the logo of Juniper Networks Inc. covering the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, October 29, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid