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Headset-maker Plantronics explores potential sale


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By Carl O'Donnell and Liana B. Baker

Nov 8 (Reuters) - Plantronics Inc, a U.S. manufacturer of Bluetooth earpieces and gaming headsets, is exploring options that include a potential sale of the company after attracting takeover interest, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

A sale of Plantronics would come on the heels of the company's $2 billion acquisition in July of U.S. video-conferencing equipment maker Polycom Inc. It would underscore the scope for consolidation in the sector, as telephony equipment becomes more commoditized and competition increases.

Plantronics declined to comment.

Plantronics shares were trading down 11 percent on Thursday before news broke of the company's efforts to sell itself, as investors digested the company's second-quarter earnings this week that missed analyst expectations.

The shares reversed course following the Reuters report and were trading up 6.3 percent at $62.89 in afternoon trading in New York on Thursday, giving the company a market capitalization of $2.5 billion.

Santa Cruz, California-based Plantronics makes unified communications systems, wireless headsets, conferencing systems, and some software, which it sells to businesses and consumers. It faces competition from new rivals entering the market for headsets, including Cisco Systems Inc.

Founded in 1961, Plantronics' first products were lightweight headsets for airline pilots. It later became known for selling headsets to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including the ones worn by Neil Armstrong during his first moonwalk in 1969.

Private equity firm Siris Capital Group LLC owns 16 percent of Plantronics, making it its largest shareholder.

Plantronics acquired Polycom this year to expand its offerings of business communications equipment and add video communications capabilities to its product mix. The deal roughly doubled Plantronics' revenues to around $483 million in the second quarter.

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