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Local Tech Wire, AP

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – (Nasdaq: CSCO) is buying agreed , a Norwegian company that makes hardware for video conferences, for $3 billion.

Cisco, the world’s largest maker of computer networking equipment that employs some 4,000 people at its campus in Research Triangle Park, said Thursday it offered 153.50 kroner ($26.50) per share of Tandberg’s stock, an 11 percent premium on Wednesday’s closing share price.

"Cisco and Tandberg have remarkably similar cultures and a shared vision to change the way the world works through collaboration and video communications technologies," said Cisco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Chambers in a statement. "Collaboration is a $34 billion market and is growing rapidly—enabled by networked Web 2.0 technologies. This acquisition showcases Cisco’s financial strength and ability to quickly capture key market transitions for growth."

Tandberg said in a statement that the proposal was recommended by a unanimous vote of its board of directors. The acquisition is expected to close in the first half of 2010.

The company’s shares rose 11 percent to $26.50 in morning trading in Oslo.

"Cisco and Tandberg share a vision of changing the way people communicate and collaborate," said Tandberg Chief Executive Officer Fredrik Halvorsen. "This transaction is a vote of confidence, not just in Tandberg but in our technology and our people. The combination of world-class technologies, Cisco’s global scale, and exceptional people from both organizations will enable us to accelerate innovation and market adoption."

After the deal closes, Cisco said Halvorsen will lead the new TelePresence Technology Group and report to Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Group.

TelePresence is the brand name for Cisco’s online videoconference suite.

Tandberg employs 1,500 people globally, with joint headquarters in Oslo and New York.