Equity Firm Buys UK’s Sophos For £3.1bn

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Acquisition of Oxfordshire-based cyber-security firm, which aided NHS during WannaCry attacks, follows fall in value of sterling in wake of 2016 Brexit vote

UK cyber-security firm Sophos is to be acquired by a US private equity group for £3.1 billion in a deal that is expected to see its current staff and management continue under the new owners.

The FTSE 250 company, which is based in Abingdon near Oxford and employs 3,400 people, said its board would unanimously recommend the offer from Thoma Bravo to shareholders.

The deal, Thoma Bravo’s first outside the US, spurred a 37 percent jump in Sophos shares on Monday to 585p, in line with the offer’s terms of 583p per share.

The company, which was founded in 1985 and went public in June 2015 on its third attempt, says it has 400,000 customers in 150 countries, 47,000 channel partners and more than 100 million users.

business securityWannaCry

It was key in aiding the NHS and other organisations during the WannaCry malware attack that disrupted businesses worldwide two years ago.

Other customers include Pixar, Ford, Under Armour, Toshiba and aerospace and defence firm Northrop Grumman.

Sophos chief executive Kris Hagerman said the deal was a “validation” for Sophos as it drives toward next-generation solutions.

Industry watchers, on the other hand, noted that the firm is the latest to be snapped up by overseas investors taking advantage of the fall in the value of sterling since the vote to leave the European Union in June 2016.

Continuity

Sophos co-founders Jan Hruska and Peter Lammer have agreed to sell their stakes in the company, as have chief executive Hagerman and outgoing chief financial officer Nick Bray.

Thoma Bravo said it would carry out a six-month review of the business but indicated it was likely to retain its existing headquarters in Abingdon and its existing structure and staff.

Bray announced his departure earlier this year and the firm continues to search for his successor.

Sophos warned in January that its previously strong growth was weakening.

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