Hewlett-Packard Co. will acquire networking vendor 3Com Corp. for $2.7 billion. The companies expect to close the acquisition during the first half of 2010.

Marlborough, Mass.-based 3Com sells wired and wireless networks in the health care, banking, manufacturing, education, government, public utility and retail sectors. The company will expand HP's networking and security capabilities. About 30% of Fortune 1000 companies, for instance, use 3Com's TippingPoint intrusion prevention systems.

The acquisition also will advance HP's next-generation data center strategy built on the convergence of servers, storage, networking, management, facilities and services, according to the companies. The pick-up of 3Com further will significantly strengthen HP's market presence in China.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP's acquisition of 3Com will continue the recent consolidation of major information technology firms by even larger companies. HP in 2008 acquired Electronic Data Systems. In September, Dell announced it would buy Perot Systems Corp. and Xerox Corp. said it would acquire Affiliated Computer Services Inc.

More information is available at hp.com and 3com.com.

--Joseph Goedert

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