Private equity house buys McAfee enterprise business

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McAfee, one of the longest-standing names in the cyber security sector, is to sell its enterprise business to private equity house Symphony Technology Group (STG) in an all-cash deal valued at $4bn as the business seeks to re-establish itself as a consumer-focused organisation.

The transaction, set to close by the end of the year subject to the usual conditions being met, will see the enterprise unit, which works with 86% of the Fortune 100 in some capacity and made sales of $1.3bn in 2020, part ways from the consumer business almost five years after the McAfee brand first re-emerged after being spun out of Intel. It comes barely six months after McAfee conducted an IPO raising over $600m.

Peter Leav, McAfee president and CEO, said STG was the right partner to strengthen the enterprise business. “This outcome is a testament to the business’s industry-leading solutions and most notably to the outstanding contributions of our employees,” he said.

“This transaction will allow McAfee to singularly focus on our consumer business and accelerate our strategy to be a leader in personal security for consumers,” Leav added.

“McAfee is one of the most iconic brands in enterprise security and has a reputation for innovation, quality and leadership,” said STG managing partner William Chisholm.

“We are fully committed to driving the business’s strategy to be the leading device-to-cloud cyber security company by partnering with McAfee’s existing world-class team to continue delivering exceptional performance to enterprises and government clients globally.”

Between now and the closing date, the enterprise unit will continue to run fully as part of McAfee while the firm’s leadership teams work with STG on transition planning. After this, McAfee will retain its name, while the enterprise business will be rebranded.

The firm said it would “continue its singular focus on delivering leading solutions to protect consumers and being a leader in personal security for consumers”.

Eric Parizo, an Omdia analyst, told our sister title SearchSecurity that the deal seemed somewhat inevitable given reports of layoffs and office closures in the year since Leav came on board, and said it was likely his objective had been to orchestrate a quick exit for McAfee’s previous backers, TPG and Thoma Bravo.

In emailed comments, Parizo said that given the current state of the consumer cyber security market, he did not rate McAfee’s potential as a pure-play consumer business in competition with the likes of Norton LifeLock, and it was possible that the enterprise business might also find itself being broken up, with its Mvision cloud business thought particularly desirable.

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