Cisco M&A chief departing, launching own firm

June 26, 2012: 1:03 PM ET

Ned Hooper leaving networking giant.

FORTUNE -- Cisco Systems (CSCO) today announced that Ned Hooper is stepping down as chief strategy officer.

He had been credited with driving Cisco's large-scale M&A activity, including multi-billion dollar deals like Tandberg ($3b), Starent Networks ($2.9b) and WebEx ($3.2b). Hooper also oversaw the company's $2 billion investment portfolio, and now is expected to launch an independent investment platform of his own. From the Cisco announcement:

Ned Hooper will be leaving the immediate Cisco family to form an independent investment partnership company and to pursue his goal to be a principal investor.  Ned has been working on his plan with us over a number of months, and we look forward to partnering with him in his new endeavor.  Ned has a unique passion and skill for investment and strategy, and will focus on this in the next phase of his career.

It is not yet clear what the relationship between Cisco and Hooper's new firm will be. A company source tells me that Hooper is not expected to take any current Cisco employees with him, but I have not yet been able to confirm.

Padmasree Warrior, Cisco's chief technology officer, will assume Hooper's responsibilities.

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