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3Com has attracted several potential buyers, including two private-equity firms and rival Nortel Networks, according to reports.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that private-equity firms Silver Lake Partners and Bain Capital have approached 3Com in recent months with potential buyout offers. Nortel also may be interested in the company, according to reports.
A spokesman for 3Com declined to comment. The two equity firms and Nortel could not be reached for comment.
3Com is the latest VoIP player to attract Silver Lake Partners' attention. Avaya last month unveiled its plans to go private via an $8.2 billion deal with Silver Lake Partners and TPG Capital. Nortel was also reported to be a suitor for Avaya.
Some 3Com partners said they hope the company doesn't get snapped up.
"I think I would prefer them not to be sold," said Jeffrey Schmidt, president of SOTA Technologies, a 3Com partner in Coshocton, Ohio.
"They have put a lot of effort into building the business, not just the numbers on the outside but in building the infrastructure so they are poised for growth," Schmidt said.
Solution providers said that if 3Com were to be sold, they would not want Nortel to be the buyer because they are wary of the turmoil Nortel has seen in recent years over finances, an accounting scandal and executive turnover.
"I would almost prefer a private-equity group vs. someone with baggage like Nortel, if that's the way they're going to go," said Glenn Conley, president and CEO of Metropark Communications, a 3Com partner in St. Louis.
If 3Com is sold to a vendor, better suitors come to mind, said Shaun Steel, sales manager at Valcom, a solution provider in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"I would like for a Juniper [Networks] or Foundry [Networks] to buy them," he said.