Websense Seeking Buyers?

Security vendor Websense is investigating a possible sale of the company and may be seeking potential buyers.

The San Diego-based Web security and content filtering company is looking to sell with aid from investment bank Qatalyst Partners, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Websense seeking suitors comes amid a security landscape that is bustling with high-profile mergers and acquisitions. Last month, the Intel's $7.78 billion buyout of security stalwart McAfee closed.

As a whole, 2010 saw myriad security acquisitions with major IT players like HP and IBM scooping up smaller security companies like ArcSight and BigFix, respectively. Those major mergers could illustrate that Websense is holding out for an IT powerhouse to add it to its arsenal.

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According to reports, Websense has a market cap of $826 million and could snag up to $1 billion in a sale.

Websense did not respond to requests for comment.

Websense, which was founded in 1994, would be an attractive target for large IT firms, security vendors and private-equity firms. In 2010, the company's stock fluctuated between $17 and $25, ending the year up 16 percent the previous December. According to TheStreet.com, Websense hit a new 52-week high as it traded $27.96 as of early afternoon on Wednesday.

The company also has a history of examining a sale. In August 2010, Websense CEO Gene Hodges told Reuters that he is open to an acquisition, but would stop short of actively pursuing a buyer.

"In my experience the way that you position yourself for sale is not to go around saying, 'I am for sale,'" Hodges told Reuters. "It's to win in the marketplace and make sure that potential suitors know what your unique assets are."

"It's certainly, in my opinion, bad negotiating strategy to say at any point I want to sell, although at every point one must be ready to sell at a good price," Hodges continued in the August interview.