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Kaspersky buys out equity firm; keeps security company private

CANCUN, Mexico — Kaspersky Labs cofounder and chief executive Eugene Kaspersky announced today that the Russian security company will not pursue an initial public offering in the forseeable future and will buy back the shares it sold to a private equity firm brought in 13 months ago to pursue an IPO.

In January 2011, General Atlantic bought 20% of Kaspersky, valued at about $200 million, from Eugene Kaspersky and his ex-wife Natalya. GA was brought in at the time to seek acquisition opportunities and set Kaspersky Lab up for an initial public offering.

“It’s quite a big deal, the biggest deal of my life,” Kaspersky said at the Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit 2012. “The company will stay private and stay focused on IT security.”

Kaspersky said the main motivation for the buy-back was the preservation of the company culture.

“IT security has to be flexivble and innovating. My impression is that being private is the right way because you don’t need to report [finances],” Kaspersky said. “I like the way company is going and the spirt of the company. To change their basic design, I’m afraid is dangerous. We are not going to change our ways, spirit, culture, emotion or strategy.”

Kaspersky said he could see the company branch beyond its core consumer and enterprise antimalware expertise. The company has a worldwide stable of security researchers with offices in 29 countries. Kaspersky said the company is profitable (less than 20% year over year growth), and promised to remain as transparent as possible in its financial disclosures.

“[If public], there are much more reports and governance and a longer decision-making process,” Kaspersky said. “I have the same feeling that I read in Richard Branson’s book that when you go public, the company goes slower. I don’t want that.”

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