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Juniper Networks bows to Elliott's demands

By Nadia Damouni and Nicola Leske

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Juniper Networks Inc has agreed to several of hedge fund Elliott Management Corp's demands for changes at the network equipment maker, including appointing two directors proposed by Elliott, a person close to the matter said on Thursday.

The source requested anonymity because the director nominee discussions are private.

Juniper also laid out an operational plan that will refocus the company on its fastest-growing networking segments, reduce its cost base and return capital to shareholders, the company said on Thursday. It plans a $2 billion share repurchase and a cash dividend of $0.10 per share.

The steps were among recommendations that Elliott, which owns a 6.2 percent stake in Juniper, made in January, marking a surprisingly quick victory for the activist investor.

Elliott had prepared a slate of directors to move ahead with a potential proxy contest if the company did not implement its proposals.

The new directors are former Cisco Systems Inc executives Kevin DeNuccio and Gary Daichendt.

Both will be up for election during Juniper's annual shareholder meeting this year.

Daichendt, who was nominated by the New York-based hedge fund last year to network services provider Emulex Corp's board, also serves on the boards of NCR Corp and ShoreTel Inc.

DeNuccio, is the current chief executive of flash storage company Violin Memory Inc and was formerly president and chief executive of telecom equipment maker Redback Networks Inc.

Former Juniper Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson will retire from the board at the end of this month.

Elliott has agreed to vote in favor of Juniper's director nominees at its 2014 shareholder meeting.

(Reporting by Nadia Damouni and Nicola Leske; Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Cynthia Osterman)

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