Cisco Ogles Russian Startups

More than a year after announcing its intention to invest in some Russian startups, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has revealed a few details about its plans and partners. (See Cisco Creates Russian Investment Fund.)

The IP giant has contributed the "anchor investment" for a $60 million venture capital fund that will be managed by Almaz Capital Partners . (See Cisco Invests in Russia Fund.)

We thought that meant Cisco was supplying some nautical equipment, but that's its way of saying it's not revealing exact amounts: "Cisco is a significant contributor to that $60 million," says a spokesman for the San Jose, Calif., behemoth. [Ed. note: And wouldn't the San Jose Behemoths be a great name for a sports franchise?]

Cisco's not the only "significant" investor, though: Its contribution is being matched by Moscow-based UFG Asset Management.

The fund is focused on "high-growth small and medium-sized companies in the technology, media, and telecommunications sectors" in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

But that's not the limit of Cisco's ambitions in the region. "Cisco will pursue investment opportunities in technology-related start-ups in the region, both directly as well as indirectly through this regional venture fund."

And it's already made a direct investment, having taken a stake in Russian online retailer Ozon . (See Cisco Invests in Russia.)

The move comes as operators in Russia and the CIS invest more and more of their capex budgets in state-of-the-art broadband fixed and mobile networks, a trend that's attracting other vendors too. (See Sonus Looks East, Comstar Consolidates, Expands, Enforta Expands Russian WiMax, Russia's VimpelCom Doubles Q1 Profits, Comstar Boasts Broadband Growth, Russia's Mobile Momentum, and MTS Launches 3G.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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