Cyber security specialist NortonLifeLock (formerly known as Symantec) is to merge with security rival Avast.

The ‘merger‘ will see NortonLifeLock pay between $8.1bn and $8.6bn for the entire ordinary share capital of Avast.

The deal is the latest development in the eventful life of the entity that used to be known as Symantec.

NortonLifeLock – Symantec

Symantec as a reminder, decided back in October 2014 to split into two independent publicly traded companies by the end of 2015.

Symantec was focused on security, whereas Veritas Technologies (which Symantec had acquired in 2005 for $13.5bn,) focused on storage and information management.

Then in January 2016 Symantec sold Veritas to private equity firm The Carlyle Group for $7.4bn.

The next twist in the life of Symantec came in August 2019 when Broadcom acquired the Enterprise Security software division of Symantec for $10.7 billion, after it failed to purchase the entire company.

Broadcom opted not to hold onto that part of Symantec for long, and in January 2020 IT services giant Accenture acquired Symantec’s Cyber Security Services business from Broadcom, for an undisclosed amount.

Soon after that the company adopted the NortonLifeLock name and relocated its headquarters to Tempe, Arizona from Mountain View, California.

Avast on the other hand had purchased its rival AVG back in 2016 for $1.3bn, and in 2015 it had created Jumpshot to analyse consumers’ online habits by measuring their search, click and buy patterns across thousands of categories from over 150 websites.

In January 2020, Avast announced plans to terminate its provision of data to its subsidiary Jumpshot, and to commence a wind down of the unit, after allegations that the Avast and AVG browser extensions had spied on the web surfing habits of users.

NortonLifeLock, Avast

So where were we? Oh yes, NortonLifeLock is now paying over $8bn for Avast in a merger that will ‘lead the transformation of consumer cyber safety.’

The merger is being recommended by both board of directors, as they believe that the merger has “compelling strategic and financial rationale and represents an attractive opportunity to create a new, industry-leading consumer Cyber Safety business, leveraging the established brands, technology and innovation of both groups to deliver substantial benefits to consumers, shareholders, and other stakeholders.”

“This transaction is a huge step forward for consumer Cyber Safety and will ultimately enable us to achieve our vision to protect and empower people to live their digital lives safely,” said Vincent Pilette, CEO of NortonLifeLock.

“With this combination, we can strengthen our Cyber Safety platform and make it available to more than 500 million users,” said Pilette. “We will also have the ability to further accelerate innovation to transform Cyber Safety.”

“At a time when global cyber threats are growing, yet cyber safety penetration remains very low, together with NortonLifeLock, we will be able to accelerate our shared vision of providing holistic cyber protection for consumers around the globe,” said Ondřej Vlček, CEO of Avast.

“Our talented teams will have better opportunities to innovate and develop enhanced solutions and services, with improved capabilities from access to superior data insights,” said Vlček. “Through our well-established brands, greater geographic diversification and access to a larger global user base, the combined businesses will be poised to access the significant growth opportunity that exists worldwide.”

Following the completion of the transaction, NortonLifeLock’s CEO, Vincent Pilette, will remain CEO, and Avast’s CEO, Ondřej Vlček, is expected to join NortonLifeLock as President and become a member of the NortonLifeLock Board of Directors.

In addition, Pavel Baudiš, a co-founder and current director of Avast, is expected to join the NortonLifeLock Board as an independent director.

On completion of the merger, the combined company will be dual headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic, and Tempe, Arizona, USA, and will have a significant presence in the Czech Republic.

The combined company will be listed on NASDAQ.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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