Sources: Juniper Eyeing Trapeze

Sources close to Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) say the company is still on the prowl for a wireless LAN switch vendor to acquire.

They say the firm may be examining switch startup Trapeze Networks Inc. as a possible acquisition target.

"They're doing more than sniffing around," notes one industry source.

A spokesperson for Juniper refused to comment on "rumors and speculation" about acquisition possibilities. No one from Trapeze has returned calls about this matter yet.

Unlike the majority of its major networking rivals, Juniper has yet to even elucidate an 802.11 strategy for potential corporate customers. Even though the firm is now clearly involved in the enterprise space with its acquisition of NetScreen .

Juniper does have a carrier-oriented deal with WLAN startup Colubris Networks Inc., which could potentially be extended into the corporate market (see Airespace Creates Turbulence).

Juniper has also recently been linked with Aruba Wireless Networks. A couple of sources have suggested that Juniper has actually made a bid of between $210 million and $225 million for the startup. But, as usual, Aruba insists it has no plans to get acquired and Juniper has no comment.

So -- for the moment -- the talk is around Trapeze. "Trapeze is the current 'it girl' of wireless," one industry source tells us.

Some even suggest that Juniper may not be the only company bidding for Trapeze. One anonymous source tells Unstrung that Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) has put in a bid of between $125 million and $150 million.

But it is not clear if Nortel is in a position to acquire anyone at the moment, since it is still working through a morass of restatements and other dealings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

One thing's for sure, Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) $450 million acquisition of Airespace Inc. has thrown the market into a tizzy (see Cisco Buying Airespace?).

As one source puts it: "I suspect everyone's talking to everyone else."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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