Cisco Systems Inc. announced plans Thursday to take a stake in Japanese Internet investment and venture firm Softbank Corp.

The California-based networking giant said in a statement it plans to pay US$200 million for the stake through a purchase of new equity. An earlier report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper said Cisco will purchase 4 million shares in Softbank as part of a private placement scheduled for mid-February.

At the same time, Cisco said it will buy most of Softbank’s stake in Cisco Systems KK, its Japanese unit, for around $275 million.

Separately, Cisco also announced it will commit $1.05 billion to a new venture fund being established by Softbank that will target venture companies in the Asia Pacific region. The fund will target companies working in the broadband, optical, wireless and Internet sectors.

The two companies have worked together since 1994, when Softbank was instrumental in bringing together a group of 13 other companies to help launch Cisco Systems KK. A year after playing a key role in establishing the company’s presence in Japan, Softbank Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son was invited to join the Cisco Systems board, a position he retained until stepping down in 1999.

Softbank, in Tokyo, can be contacted at +81-3-5642-8000 or found online at http://www/ Cisco, in San Jose, California, can be reached at +1-408-526-4000 or at

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