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Sophos sells majority stake to private equity group

Apax Partners, a private equity investment firm, buys a majority interest in computer security vendor Sophos. Sophos is valued at $830 million in the transaction.

Less than a week after Symantec's acquisitions of encryption vendors PGP and GuardianEdge, the rash of consolidation in the computer security market continued Monday when Sophos agreed to sell a majority interest to global private equity group, Apax Partners.

Terms were not released, but the company is valued at $830 million, according to a news release. Minority shareholders TA Associates will also sell its full interest in Sophos to Apax. Sophos, which specializes in endpoint security and antimalware protection, said it had revenue in excess of $260 million as of March 31, the end of its fiscal year.

Apax Partners, meanwhile, focuses on five business sectors, including technology and telecommunications companies.

Sophos, based in the U.K., was one of the largest remaining standalone security vendors, trailing Symantec and McAfee for leadership in the endpoint security space, and McAfee in the sale of data protection suites, according to the Sophos release.

"As the market continues its migration from point solution to tailored, unified security suites, Sophos' strategy to offer the world's most resilient, cost effective solutions without any additional complexity remains key," said Sophos CEO Steve Munford, in a prepared statement. " Apax's financial backing, combined with Sophos's deep understanding of security and data protection is great news for our customers, prospects and partners."

"We identified the security software space as an attractive investment area for us given its rapid growth driven by ever increasing malware threats and high barriers to entry," said Salim Nathoo, a partner in the Tech & Telecom team at Apax Partners. "Sophos is a very strong platform and is gaining market share. Apax's strong track record and industry specific knowledge in the technology sector makes Sophos a perfect fit."

Sophos founders Dr. Jan Hruska and Dr. Peter Lammer will keep a minority share of the company.

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