Ericsson Chairman On Cisco: We've 'Never Been Involved' In M&A Talks

Ericsson Chairman Leif Johansson said there has been no discussion around turning its strategic partnership with Cisco into any type of merger or acquisition.

In an interview with CNBC Tuesday, Johansson said he's "never been involved in any such discussions" with Cisco around a potential M&A.

"We have a good relationship with Cisco right now. Fairly limited, and I think from that point of view, we are satisfied with what we see," said Johansson. "And obviously as we develop as partners we are going to assess how [and] what we can do more together."

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In late 2015, Cisco and Ericsson entered into a joint development pact that had partners pumped for a potential Internet of Things boost. The Swedish communications giant and the San Jose, Calif.-based networking leader said the partnership will generate incremental sales in 2016 for both companies, ramping to $1 billion or more for each by 2018.

During Cisco's second fiscal quarterly earnings call in February, CEO Chuck Robbins said the two companies have around 300 customer engagements together.

"We believe that all the original business drivers that led us to establish the partnership with Ericsson are still very valid," said Robbins.

Kent MacDonald, vice president of business development at Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based Cisco Gold partner, said the partnership hasn't had much effect on his company's business yet.

"Unless you're on in the mobility side, I don’t think [the Cisco-Ericsson partnership] is going to be much of an impact right now," said MacDonald. "The one area that could be impactful going forward is around the IoT initiative. … But they haven't really been on our radar."

Cisco and Ericsson said their sales forces have been engaging with customers worldwide on business deals around networking, mobility and cloud technologies, IP transformation and managed services agreements.

In January, the two companies deepened their strategic partnership with a new Wi-Fi offering, dubbed Evolved Wi-Fi Networks (EWN). EWN combined Ericsson's 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) access, core networks and applications with Cisco's wireless portfolio. This included pre-integrated and verified offerings such as the combination of Ericsson's indoor access networks with Cisco's WLAN portfolio.

In October, Ericsson appointed board member Borje Ekholm as its new CEO. The company's former CEO, Hans Vestberg, was ousted in July following lower-than-expected earnings and an internal restructuring effort.

Robbins in February said Cisco has been in "a great deal of discussion" with Ekholm on ways to accelerate the partnership.

"He is committed to continuing and trying to make this as successful as we possibly can," said Robbins.