McAfee (and Those Annoying Pop-Ups) Going Private for $14 Billion

Despite being best known for pioneering infuriating pop-up notifications before they were a thing and the antics of its bizarre, late founder, McAfee sure gets around.

In a story of how one trend can send billions flowing, the computer security outfit sold for $14 billion on Monday to a consortium of private equity firms.

Passing the Bucks

Cyber security companies have become darlings of the private equity set, who are interested in making a buck (or a few billion) as IT departments around the world move more and more data to cloud networks.

McAfee has traded hands a lot in recent years, with almost everyone making a pretty penny:

  • Intel bought the firm in 2010 for $7.7 billion, then sold a 51% stake to private equity firm TPG for $4.2 billion in 2016.
  • McAfee went public last October before selling off its enterprise business to Symphony Technology Group for $4 billion.

TPG and Intel both kept significant stakes in the company, so each had quite a payday on the $14 billion deal — and stockholders will get $26 a share, a 21% premium on McAfee’s November 4 trading price.

Debt Charge: The PE consortium buying McAfee is pitching in $5.2 billion in equity and also had to take on $10 billion in debt from banks and credit funds. That suggests those in charge think the company’s valuation can be turbocharged even more down the road.

What’s In a Name? Apart from a brief spell in 2014 when Intel attempted a rebranding, McAfee still bears the name of its late, mercurial founder, John McAfee, more than 25 years after he left the company. In addition to making lots of weird Twitter posts, he fled his home in Belize when police tried to question him about a neighbor’s murder in 2012 and, before his death earlier this year in Spain, was charged with securities fraud in a crypto pump-and-dump scheme.

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