Symantec Surges on Report Thoma Bravo Considered Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Symantec Corp. surged the most in 17 years after Reuters reported that Thoma Bravo approached the cybersecurity company about an acquisition.

There is no certainty that the discussions between Thoma Bravo and Symantec will lead to a deal, Reuters said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Technology-focused private equity firm Thoma Bravo is on an acquisition spree. On Monday, it agreed to buy Veracode software from Broadcom Inc. for $950 million and last month said it was taking security-software maker Imperva Inc. private in a deal valued at $2.1 billion. Representatives from Thoma Bravo declined to comment. Symantec wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Symantec, the world’s biggest maker of cybersecurity software, has been struggling as it shifts toward selling more to businesses, but hasn’t yet overcome waning consumer interest in antivirus programs for personal computers. The company recently concluded a financial investigation that will result in revised results for the already announced fourth quarter and the first fiscal quarter of 2019, and is also still working to integrate Blue Coat, which it acquired in 2016 for $4.65 billion.

“Now would be the golden time if the company and its board decided to finally take the bid and go private,” Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, wrote in a note. “Symantec has struggled for the last decade-plus trying to find a path to consistent growth and an acquisition strategy that would firmly cement the company’s competitive position in an increasingly crowded cybersecurity landscape.” He said Symantec could be worth $26 to $30 a share in a sale.

The stock rose as much as 18 percent to $23.57 in New York, the biggest intraday jump since July 2001. Symantec was down 29 percent this year through Monday. FireEye Inc. and Carbon Black Inc. were among other cybersecurity stocks that gained on the news.

Symantec’s top hedge fund holders are both activists: Starboard Value with 24.5 million shares, or a 3.8 percent stake and Eminence Capital with 5.09 million shares, or a 0.8 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Silver Lake Management and Bain Capital also are investors in the company.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.