Mergers and Acquisitions, Networking

Intel Trying to Sell McAfee Security Unit; Worth Only $3 Billion?

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) is speaking with multiple suitors about selling the McAfee security business, and TPG is among the potential bidders, Bloomberg says. A potential $3 billion offer is less than half of the $7.6 billion that Intel paid for McAfee in 2011.

> Updated Sept. 7, 2016: Intel Confirms McAfee Spin-Off Plan.

Now known as Intel Security, the McAfee business has struggled under the chip giant's ownership. The original M&A vision called for McAfee to develop security capabilities that were hardwired directly into Intel's PC processors. But Intel and McAfee largely missed the software industry's shift to mobile and cloud computing -- and the resulting PC market slump hurt McAfee's core anti-virus business.

Intel further struggled with McAfee's MSP-centric software businesses -- including the former MX Logic. As an independent company, MX Logic thrived as a recurring revenue platform for MSPs. But under the ownership of McAfee and then Intel, the core MX Logic offerings suffered -- some were even killed off to the utter shock of channel partners. (Side note: Several former MX Logic leaders are now building out Pax8, a cloud-centric distributor that works closely with VARs and MSPs.)

Amid McAfee's own struggles, several nimble security companies -- names like AppRiver, OpenDNSSophos and Webroot -- have developed successful partner programs for MSPs. Kaspersky Lab has also been making key moves with MSPs, the latest of which arrived today.

Intel and McAfee aren't alone in their struggles. Rival Symantec stumbled in recent years. A breakup with Veritas and the recent Blue Coat acquisition, however, appear to be nursing the company back to health.

Intel Security: McAfee for Sale Rumors

Rumors about Intel potentially selling the security business have circulated since at least June 2016. But some potential suitors have apparently walked away from the process. According to Bloomberg:

"Some buyout firms that had shown preliminary interest in McAfee, including Permira Holdings and Thoma Bravo, are not currently actively pursuing the unit, the people said. The potential suitors were put off by slower-than-expected growth of the business and a lack of obvious cost reductions, two of the people said."

Despite the ownership uncertainty, the Intel Security channel team has been working overtime to maintain partner loyalty. Intel FOCUS, the company's security event for partners and customers, is set for November 2016.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.