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UK security giant Sophos heading for £3.1bn acquisition

A US investment firm is set to take the British security giant Sophos private in a deal valuing the company at £3.1bn.

Private equity investor Thoma Bravo, which has acquired a string of US software companies in recent years, secured the unanimous support of Sophos’s directors with a cash offer of $7.40 per share (583p at the time of announcement).

The value of Sophos’s shares rose by 35.6 per cent on Monday (15 October) as details of the proposed deal were unveiled. The news came after warnings of slow growth triggered a fall in the LSE-listed company’s shares last November and in January.

Headquartered in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Sophos specialises in end-point and network security. It was founded in 1985 by Jan Hruska and Peter Lammer, who support the deal and are in line to make a total of £464m.

Sophos employs around 3,300 employees around the world and claims to have more than 400,000 clients in 150 countries. Thoma Bravo described the acquisition as an “attractive opportunity to increase its exposure to the large and growing cyber security market”.

The investment firm, which has offices in Chicago and San Francisco, has acquired a total of 200 companies. It bought Barracuda Networks in February 2018, Imperva in January this year and also owns a minority stake in McAfee.

Seth Boro, a managing partner at the company, said the Sophos deal “fits with our strategy of investing in and growing software and technology businesses globally. […] Sophos has a market-leading product portfolio and we believe that, by applying Thoma Bravo’s expertise, operational framework and experience, we can support the business and accelerate its evolution and growth.”

Sophos’s chairman, Peter Gyenes, added: “It is the view of the Sophos Board that this is a compelling offer for Sophos shareholders which secures the delivery of future value for shareholders today. Thoma Bravo has deep sector expertise in cybersecurity software as well as a long and successful track record of partnering with and investing in its portfolio companies to support long-term growth and success.”