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starentThe Wall Street Journal reports that Cisco plans to acquire Starent Networks, a supplier of mobile-infrastructure products, for $35 a share, in a deal the companies valued at $2.9 billion. Starent, which went public in 2007, has about 1,000 employees world-wide. (Update: Starent has published a press release on the acquisition.)

The acquisition of the Tewksbury, Mass.-based Starent has been approved by the boards of both companies. Starent is a developed of Internet protocol-based mobile infrastructure gear that is purchased by carriers who want to offer mobile voice and data to their customers. The mobile Internet has become more important and is undergoing a technological change as more web-enabled smartphones such as the iPhone gain steam. Mobile data traffic is expected to more than double every year through 2013, according to Cisco.

Starent will become part of Cisco’s Mobile Internet Technology Group led by Starent’s chief executive, Ashraf Dahod. Starent was founded in 2000 and went public in 2007. It has about 1,000 employees and reported revenue of $254.1 million in 2008. This is Cisco’s second major acquisition since Oct. 1, when it agreed to buy video conferencing company Tandberg for $3 billion. Clearly, the tech giants are taking advantage of the recovery and lingering weak valuations to go on an acquisition binge.

[Update: Venture capitalists who backed Starent did quite well. Highland, Matrix and Northbridge were the winners.]

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