Symantec Confirms Company Breakup

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Symantec confirms breakup of company into two separate entities: security and information management

The world’s largest security software provider Symantec has officially confirmed it is to split into two independent publicly traded companies.

The confirmation came after a report earlier this week suggested that the company was engaged in “advanced talks” about a possible breakup.

One Becomes Two

Symantec is of course best known for its Norton antivirus and BackupExec software, and the company is touting the breakup as way to “increase focus”, reduce “operational complexity” and achieve “strategic flexibility”.

The board of directors unanimously approved a plan that will see the company separate into two businesses, one focused on security and one business focused on information management (IM).

Norton iAntivirus“Symantec’s decision to pursue a separation follows an extensive business review of the company’s strategy and operational structure,” it said. “Creating two standalone businesses will allow each entity to maximize its respective growth opportunities and drive greater shareholder value.”

“It has become clear that winning in both security and information management requires distinct strategies, focused investments and go-to market innovation,” said Michael Brown, Symantec president and CEO. Brown took over the running of the company after the previous CEO, Steve Bennett, was fired in March this year, as the company contended with a declining stock price and falling earnings.

“Separating Symantec into two, independent publicly traded companies will provide each business the flexibility and focus to drive growth and enhance shareholder value,” said Brown.

The security business will compete in a market projected to reach $38bn (£23.7bn) in 2018. Symantec has the largest share of the security market, but in recent years critics have accused the company of not keeping up with key trends such as the shift towards cloud computing and the slump in PC sales, as well as the arrival of more agile competitors.

Now Symantec aims for a unified security strategy based around three elements. The first is a unified platform that integrates threat information from various sources for superior threat analysis. Secondly it wants to grow its cybersecurity service capabilities across managed security, incident response, threat adversary intelligence and simulation-based training for security professionals. And thirdly it wants to simplify and integrate its security products portfolio by consolidating its Norton products to one offering.

The IM business meanwhile will operate in a market expected to be worth $16bn (£10bn) by 2018. Symantec became a serious player in the data storage arena when it acquired Veritas Software for a hefty $10.2bn (£6.3bn) in 2005. The IM business now serves serving 75 percent of the Fortune 500.

Parting Company

Organisationally, the new structure will see Michael Brown remain as President and CEO of Symantec (the security business). John Gannon meanwhile will be General Manager of the new information management business. There is no word about the new names of the respective companies.

The company expects to complete the spinoff by the end of December 2015.

Earlier this week Hewlett-Packard said it would split its operations into two separate units, with the PC and printer business overseen by HP Inc and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise looking to focus on selling enterprise hardware and services. It also announced another 5,000 jobs would be lost.

And eBay Inc announced last month that it would separate its PayPal digital-payments unit and marketplace business into two companies by the end of next year.

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