Juniper Networks tried to sell enterprise assets: report

Claims in the latter half of 2012, Juniper contacted some competitors to assess their interest in its enterprise networking portfolio

Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) reportedly shopped around its enterprise assets to rivals last year but found no takers for properties such as the NetScreen security business it acquired in 2004.

According to Reuters, talks fell through late last year for the $4.36 billion network company to sell enterprise assets, including NetScreen, which it acquired for $4 billion. Reuters cited "several sources close to the matter" but did not name them.

[UP FRONT? Juniper CEO Johnson talks software, the company's recent challenges and key future directions]

In the latter half of 2012, Juniper quietly contacted a half dozen competitors to assess their interest in its enterprise networking portfolio, which also includes its EX and QFabric line of switches, and J series routers. Juniper also sells some models of its M and MX series routers into enterprises.

Among the assets pitched was NetScreen, but interest waned when potential suitors determined the assets "lacked innovation and growth", according to Reuters.

A Juniper spokesperson issued this statement:

"We do not comment on rumours or speculation in the marketplace. We continue to execute against our strategy which focuses on the domain of networking in both the service provider and enterprise sectors. We create value through organic innovation, complemented with acquisitions and partnerships. For example, in 2012 we made acquisitions of Mykonos enterprise security software and Contrail SDN software solutions and established a partnership with Riverbed. Clearly we have been a buyer, not a seller."

Juniper has been challenged to grow its security business in recent quarters. Its EX switching line has yet to see a major refresh since it debuted in 2008, and its QFabric line has been slow to gain traction.

Last fall was also the time EMC was rumored to be sizing up Juniper as an acquisition target but EMC CEO Joe Tucci poured cold water on that speculation. Juniper cut 5% of its workforce last fall, lost four top ranking executives and combined its data center, and campus and branch networking divisions into one.

Investment banks were not enlisted in the review of the asset sale, Reuters states. Goldman Sachs has helped the company on prior deals and did not comment for the Reuters story.

Juniper is now reviewing its enterprise business after having failed to sell some of it off, Reuters says. The company is considering options that could include acquisitions to bolster the security and enterprise business, with a longer-term view of a sale or spin-off, the news wire reports.

For acquisition financing, Juniper could decide to raise cash through a private sale of equity, Reuters reports.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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