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You've probably already seen the rumor by now that Cisco may be looking to cut its Linksys consumer networking division loose, as early as next week. Even when you consider the British techno-tabloid source, the Register, it seems plausible.

Linksys Logo xed

Given all the hand-wringing and finger-wagging by analyst types about Cisco's need to focus on its core big-iron networking business, this really isn't a surprise. After the Flip division was shut down, the writing was on the wall.

But, unlike Flip, Linksys is too valuable a brand to just shut down. But the real question is who will buy it?

It's not like the consumer networking business is a gold mine. About the only thing companies make money on these days are NASes, where Linksys doesn't have a product. Sure, its routers can be found on shelves from Best Buy to Sam's Club to Target to WalMart. But there is nothing in Linksys' router lineup that can't be had from any of its competition.

So that rules out NETGEAR and D-Link as possible buyers along with every other networking company.

My money is on either a sale to HP or maybe Dell as a long shot, or one of those private equity groups that specialize on making money from once-great brands. A longer shot would be a spin-off to a standalone company. But that's unlikely since the entrepreneurial spirit (and talent) left Linksys long ago after it was absorbed by the Cisco Borg.

Let the rumor mill grind on!

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