EU approves Cisco bid for NDS

Cisco has won the approval of EU authorities in a bid to acquire NDS to reinforce and bolster its standing in the video communications market.

Hours after Cisco announced it would trim 2 percent of its workforce , or 1,300 jobs worldwide, European authorities have given the green light for the networking giant to acquire television software developer NDS Group for $5 billion.

Cisco announced the plans in March to buy NDS, but had to wait for regulatory approval, considering the vast sums involved.

NDS' buyout marks Cisco's largest acquisition to date, following the purchase of Norway-based conferencing company Tandberg for $3.3 billion in 2009.

"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," read a note from Brussels on Tuesday.

"The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns."

Israel-founded and London based NDS develops software for paid-television channels used by DirecTV and British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB). It develops secure delivery of encrypted television content to digital set-top boxes and digital TVs. A plug-and-play solution, many end-users whack in a smart card into and it authenticates the viewer as a paid user; a vital part of DirecTV and Sky's business model.

Before the buyout, it was split almost down the middle: private equity fund Permira owned 51 percent while Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owned 49 percent. 

As part of the deal, Cisco will acquire operations in China, France, Israel, India, and the U.K. and about 5,000 employees who will join Cisco's video technology division.