agreed to acquire

VPNet Technologies

, a privately held virtual private network equipment and device maker, for $120 million in cash, in a bid to expand its presence in the data networking market.

Avaya, a Basking Ridge, N.J., company spun off from

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Lucent Technologies

( LU), said the acquisition will reduce its fiscal 2001 earnings by 3 cents a share, excluding in-process research and development and the amortization of goodwill. Analysts on average are expecting earnings of $1.27 a share in 2001, compared with 55 cents a share in 1999, according to

First Call/Thomson Financial


Avaya expects to close the acquisition in the quarter ending March 31.

Shares of Avaya recently rose 6 cents, or 0.6%, to $11.06 in trading on the Big Board.