HP has announced it has entered into an agreement to purchase 3Com, said to be "a leading provider of networking switching, routing and security solutions".

HP will pay $2.7 billion for the company with the transaction expected to close in the first half of 2010.

In a press release, HP says the acquisition "will transform the networking industry and underscore HP's next-generation data center strategy built on the convergence of servers, storage, networking, management, facilities and services".

3Com is big in China, giving HP an in to a rapidly growing IT market, while the buy-out as a whole will mean HP will threaten Cisco's dominance in the networking market.