IT security and data protection firm Sophos announced that it has reached an agreement to sell a majority interest in the company to private equity group Apax Partners. The transaction will value the company at $830 million. Following the transaction, the founders of Sophos will retain a significant minority shareholding. Private equity firm TA Associates, a minority shareholder in Sophos since 2002, will sell its full interest to Apax in the deal.
Sophos provides IT security and data protection services, helping clients defend against known and unknown malware, spyware, intrusions, unwanted applications, spam, policy abuse and data leakage, and providing comprehensive network access control (NAC) services.
The company claims over 100 million users in more than 150 countries, with customers including Cisco, Marks and Spencer, Heinz and Harvard University. In its fiscal year ended March 31, 2010 (unaudited), Sophos had billings in excess of $330 million (compared with $273 million in FY 2009), revenue in excess of $260 million (FY2009: $213 million) and generated unlevered free cash flow of approximately $55 million (FY2009: $40 million).
“Over the past three years, Sophos has prospered operationally and financially, growing our revenues at a 27% cumulative annual growth rate and generating strong cash flow,” said Steve Munford, CEO of Sophos. “As the market continues its migration from point solution to tailored, unified security suites, Sophos’s strategy to offer the world’s most resilient, cost effective solutions without any additional complexity remains key. Apax’s financial backing, combined with Sophos’s deep understanding of security and data protection is great news for our customers, prospects, partners. It is also a testament to the efforts of all those who helped bring Sophos to where it is today.”
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to back Sophos as well as its excellent CEO and management team,” said Salim Nathoo, a partner in the Tech & Telecom team at Apax 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. 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, and we look forward to working closely with this high-growth business going forward.”
Alongside Apax Partners, current shareholders will retain significant stakes in the business, including Dr Jan Hruska and Dr Peter Lammer, who co-founded the company in 1985.