What next for 3Com? Another merger may be in the works

But company holds out hope for Bain-Huawei acquisition.

The future of 3Com remains unsettled since Bain Capital and Huawei Technologies last week withdrew a joint filing for a deal to purchase the company that was being considered by a U.S. committee on foreign investment.

3Com officials said Monday that Bain's acquisition attempts are still moving forward, despite last week's news and some press accounts that made it appear that the acquisition effort was dead. "The goal is [still] to make the acquisition work," said John Vincenzo, a 3Com spokesman, in an interview Monday.

Still, some analysts believe the acquisition has been scuttled and that 3Com might be acquired by another investment house such as Silver Lake which purchased Avaya last October.

Late Friday, Shenzhen, China-based Huawei issued a statement that some observers interpreted as signaling the end of the acquisition effort, but Vincenzo said that interpretation was incorrect. He said part of the problem was that the statement had been translated into English from Mandarin, the dialect used by Huawei officials in China, and some subtleties were lost.

Vincenzo said that an earlier statement posted by 3Com last Wednesday is still true. It simply said that the three companies "remain committed to continuing discussions." In that statement, 3Com CEO Edgar Masri expressed disappointment and said 3Com would work with Bain and Huawei to address concerns by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Huawei has close ties to the Beijing government, and that apparently has caused concerns for CFIUS, an interagency committee inside the U.S. Department of the Treasury. CFIUS was investigating whether Huawei's proposed purchase of a 16.5% stake in 3Com would pose a risk to U.S. security. 3Com had always contended that Huawei would not have any control over 3Com's operations in the event of a merger. But Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) noted that 3Com makes intrusion-detection systems used by the U.S. Department of Defense and that Chinese hackers have targeted the Pentagon.

Vincenzo said there have been a range of interpretations by financial analysts and the press about what 3Com will do next.

One technology analyst, Zeus Kerravala at Yankee Group Research, said the merger is over, and not just the filing to CFIUS. "That means 3Com's future is in doubt," he said.

Kerravala said there could be another interested buyer, such as Silver Lake, which recently hired Charles Giancarlo as a managing director. Giancarlo was the chief development officer at Cisco Systems until December, and he is a 25-year network systems veteran.

Silver Lake could acquire 3Com with an eye toward merging 3Com products that focus on data switching with Avaya products that focus on voice switching, Kerravala said. "That scenario is probably a long shot," Kerravala acknowledged, but, he added, "it is the type of acquisition" that should happen.

3Com faces uncertainty partly because it has failed to attract a large business customer base even though it has "very good products," Kerravala said. "A merger with a larger vendor with a bigger [sales and distribution] channel makes sense."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Hamblen

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?