Cisco's Chambers Says He 'Doubled Down' On The Market After Trump's Win

Cisco Systems Executive Chairman and former CEO John Chambers said he "doubled down on the market" after Donald Trump won the presidential election and said President-elect Trump’s tax repatriation plan would give Cisco the firepower needed to acquire more U.S.-based companies.

"I doubled down in the market the day after he got elected," said Chambers in an interview with The Wall Street Journal at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland Tuesday. "I'm a Republican, but I also support many Democrats, and I'm saying just give him a little time to see what happens."

On Election Day while speaking at the Web Summit in Portugal, Chambers told the audience that he had voted for Hillary Clinton.

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But now with Trump set for the Oval Office, Chambers said if the new president delivers in areas such as getting "our tax system fixed" and the repatriation of bringing upward of $2 trillion held overseas back into the country, it would spur growth in the U.S. economy.

"If you break down regulation on that and you begin to get the small to medium business in the U.S. growing at the level it should – it's not growing like it should. We're over-regulated. We're not having enough new companies go on the Nasdaq. … But if $2 trillion comes back, CEOs have to spend it," said Chambers.

A Cisco spokesperson said it was "unlikely" that Chambers would be attending Trump's inauguration in Washington this week due to his attendance at the World Economic Forum, which runs from Jan. 17 to Jan. 20.

Last month, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, along with several other top technology leaders, met with President-elect Trump and his transition team for a roundtable discussion in New York.

Trump has called for decreasing the U.S. corporate income tax rate from 35 percent – one of the highest rates in the world -- to 15 percent to boost hiring, innovation and expansion in the U.S. He also has advocated for a special tax holiday where corporations with overseas cash, like Cisco, would pay a tax rate of 10 percent on that income in an effort to bring the money back into the U.S.

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant has more than $60 billion currently held overseas. When questioned on what Cisco would do if it were able to bring that money back into the U.S., Chambers said it would drive acquisitions of U.S.-based companies.

"You'll see us basically look at where we [can] acquire companies, because we grow where we acquire," said Chambers. "Where we acquire is where the job increases occur. We didn’t acquire as many companies as we normally would in the U.S. Part of it will also go to repurchasing stock and part of it will go to dividends."

The combined cash overseas from technology giants Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle and Google totaled more than $500 billion by the end of 2016, according to a report by Moody's Investor Service.

Chambers also said the taxation of the $2 trillion would give America the funding needed to repair its infrastructure and increase wages.

"The major thing is, you spend $2 trillion and the incomes go up dramatically in the U.S. and in many areas," said Chambers. "The other thing is, a certain amount of that will be taken as taxes when you come back. So all of a sudden President-elect Trump can start to deliver on the highway and infrastructure system. So actually, I'm the optimist here."

Ben Johnson, CEO of Griffin, Ga.-based Liberty Tech, which partners with Cisco, agreed that the repatriation would spur massive economic growth.

"If all of that money was coming back into our economy, the impact would be phenomenal," said Johnson. "It's been kicked around for years now, even [President Barack] Obama talked about it. … If it did happen, it would be a good for both partners and consumers."