McAfee’s Consumer Business to Be Acquired by Private Equity Groups

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The McAfee consumer security business, which trades on the NASDAQ under the symbol MCFE, will be going private in a deal valued at more than $14 billion.

McAfee had sold its Enterprise business just a few months ago, to a private consortium led by Symphony Technology Group (STG) – and McAfee Enterprise was subsequently merged with the FireEye security products business that STG acquired from Mandiant (MNDT).

Now McAfee’s consumer business will also be privately held, by an investor group led by Advent International Corp. and five other investment groups. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2022, but first there’s a 45-day “go shop” period during which McAfee has the right to consider other offers.

McAfee had gone private in 2017 when it was spun off from Intel, then went public again last year – and is now going private again.

McAfee and McAfee Enterprise share one issue with their longtime competitors Symantec and NortonLifeLock, which split into enterprise and consumer companies two years ago.

Symantec and NortonLifeLock share common intellectual property that may need to be shared for some time, a situation further complicated by NortonLifeLock’s pending merger with Avast.

The McAfee Enterprise and consumer businesses will likely have similar issues to work out. As part of the consumer-enterprise split, McAfee noted in an SEC filing in August that “we entered into a transition service agreement under which we will provide assistance to STG including, but not limited to, business support services and information technology services.”

In another sign of how entwined the companies remain, McAfee and McAfee Enterprise continue to share a common website in addition to a common name. Presumably that will change over time as both companies settle into new arrangements.

Despite the confusing and oft-changing business ownership, the security technology of all these companies has remained solid, landing them on a number of our top product lists, among them endpoint detection and response (EDR) and antivirus software.

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