3Com Corp, which itself came close to being acquired by Convergent Technologies 18 months ago, has agreed to acquire Silicon Valley neighbour Bridge Communications Inc for shares worth a startling $193m. The move represents a horizontal integration for Santa Clara-based 3Com, which specialises in local area network hardware, now including servers and diskless workstations, while Bridge, of Mountain View, is primarily a supplier of gateways that link local networks into wide area networks. The combination expects to have sales of about $200m this year, making it the largest networking equipment company in the US apart from the appropriate parts of AT&T and IBM. In their most recent quarters, 3Com did $3.2m net on sales up 63% at $31.6m in its fourth period to May 31, Bridge did $1.8m net on sales up $1.8m in the quarter to June 30. The agreement calls for 3Com to pay 1.4 of its shares for each of the 8.3m Bridge shares outstanding, valuing them at $23.275 apiece. Bridge closed up $1.875 to $23.50 on the announcement late Friday, while 3Com closed up just $0.625 at $16.625. Holders are due to vote on the proposals in October, and to frustrate any counter-bidders, each has granted the other options to buy up to 30% of the other to repel raiders.