Cisco buys UK-based NDS for £3bn

The purchase of the Staines-based pay-TV technology company is expected to boost Cisco's Videoscape content-delivery suite and help Cisco's video division expand into territories such as India and China
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Cisco has revealed plans to buy NDS, a UK-based pay-TV technology company, for approximately $5bn.

Cisco HQ

Cisco has bought Staines-based pay-TV technology company NDS for $5bn. Image credit: Cisco

NDS, which is headquartered in Staines, provides broadcasters with secure video delivery, digital rights management and other services. The assets brought in under the deal will let Cisco strengthen its own Videoscape content-delivery platform, the networking giant said in its announcement on Thursday. They will also be expected to help Cisco expand into territories such as China and India, where NDS already has a strong presence.

"NDS's customer portfolio will broaden Cisco's presence into new segments of the service provider market," Marthin De Beer, Cisco's video and collaboration chief, wrote in a blog post. "It will expand Cisco's reach into emerging markets where NDS has a strong footprint, with customers such as CCTV in China and Bharti and TataSky in India."

On the other side, the deal is expected to allow NDS to work with a greater variety of set-top box manufacturers.

"NDS's open software video platform and services are highly complementary to Cisco technology, and together we are uniquely positioned to enable service providers to deliver... multi-screen video services to their customers," the British company's executive chairman Abe Peled said in a statement.

NDS's software includes viewing clients and content security tools. These, together with NDS's systems integration capabilities, will "accelerate the delivery" of Cisco's Videoscape platform, according to the San Jose-based company.

NDS history

The buyout, which equates to £3.2bn, involves a $4bn cash payment and the assumption of $1bn in debt. The deal will provide major windfalls for NDS's two current owners: the private equity company Permira, which has a 51-percent stake, and News Corp, which has the other 49 percent.

News Corp, a customer of NDS, was also its owner for much of the 1990s, before it spun the company off. NDS floated in 1999, but subsequently turned private again a decade later when News Corp and Permira bought all its public stock.

During its public phase, NDS was the subject of several lawsuits from rivals such as Canal Plus Technologies and Echostar, who alleged that NDS had cracked their smartcards and then distributed the codes to pirates.

The effect was that NDS's rivals had comparatively insecure pay TV systems. Only the Echostar case went to trial, and NDS was ordered to pay damages.

NDS has around 5,000 employees in the UK, France, India and China, all of whom will be transferred to Cisco once the deal closes. That closure is planned for the second half of this year.

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