Cisco Systems Inc. has hired Barclays PLC to shop its home networking group based in Irvine and may have already found a buyer, according to media reports.

The San Jose-based company has long called Linksys LLC a “key part” of its strategy, but that hasn’t kept the local operation from being linked to several other suitors the last few years.

The rumors are swirling once again in technology circles with a host of potential suitors in the mix, including giants Dell Inc., Microsoft Corp and Netgear Inc. to local players such as Fountain Valley-based networking equipment maker D-Link Systems Inc.

Linksys is expected to sell for much less than the $500 million Cisco paid local entrepreneurs Victor and Janie Tsao for the company in 2003.

The sale catapulted the duo to the Orange County Business Journal’s OC Wealthiest List, where they’ve held the designation since.

Linksys has its campus near the University of California, Irvine, where it became a hub for Cisco’s consumer efforts and employed an estimated 400 people last year. Top functions there included designing and marketing routers and other devices that allow users to link household computers and share Internet access.

The shutdown of the company’s Flip video-camera operation last year resulted in Cisco cutbacks in Irvine and companywide. The device was largely seen as a misguided $550 million investment from the world’s largest networking company amid skyrocketing growth for smartphones that provided similar features, with no added costs.

Cisco has been looking to dramatically overhaul its business lines and exit less profitable, or lower margin, segments.