Business Briefs: Nortel Picks Up Optical Company

SAN MATEO (05/26/2000) - Nortel Networks Corp. last week announced that it would acquire optical component technology provider Photonic Technologies Ltd., a move designed to strengthen its presence in developing the all-optical Internet market, officials said. Nortel, which already owned a one-third stake in the company, will pay up to $35.5 million in cash, Nortel officials said.

Photonic Technologies, based in Sydney, Australia, develops optical component technology for high-speed optical and DWDM (dense wave division multiplexing) networks, a Nortel official said. Photonic Technologies will join Nortel Networks' High Performance Optical Component Solutions unit, according to company officials.

RESTRUCTURING: Cisco Systems forms new unified messaging unitEmphatically calling itself a platform -- not enterprise applications -- provider, Cisco Systems Inc. unveiled last week its Internet Communications Software Group, blending its unified messaging and customer contact solutions into a single unit.

According to Eugene Lee, vice president of marketing for the new group, the undertaking is aimed at leveraging Cisco's networking position and existing software in a strategy built on platforms and infrastructure. Cisco's intent is not to pose as an applications vendor.

Lee underscored the difference between Cisco's approach and that of its key competitors, which are also going after the unified messaging and customer contact markets. Specifically, Lee pointed to Nortel's acquisition of CRM (customer relationship management) vendor Clarify and a similar move by Lucent as proof that those two networking titans are moving differently by focusing on integration.

For its part, rather than offering to do everything for the customer, Cisco plans to rely more on partners, Lee said. The company revealed several new partnerships, including deals with CRM vendors Chordiant Software, Kana Communications Inc., PeopleSoft Inc., and Oracle Corp. Unified communications partners include Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Software.com Inc.

SALE: AMD snags buyer for business unit

CHIPMAKER Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) last week said it has reached an agreement to sell 90 percent of its communications products division for $375 million to investment firm Francisco Partners.

The sale of the 160-person division is part of AMD's strategy of focusing on the production of personal computer microprocessors and related products while peeling off nonessential divisions, company officials said.

In October of last year, AMD announced plans to sell its communications group, which at that time included both its communications products division and network products division, officials said.

However, AMD decided in March to retain the assets of the network products division, although ending its status as a separate division, officials said.

Robust sales of AMD microprocessors and flash memory products have led to record-breaking quarterly results for the company in the last two quarters, officials said.

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