Optiv CEO Aims To Build The Biggest Global Security Provider By Using KKR's Investment To Make International Acquisitions

Optiv Security has always looked to be the biggest security player on the block, but the company is now looking to take that vision global under new private equity ownership, CEO Dan Burns said.

Optiv announced Tuesday that private equity firm KKR & Co. planned to acquire a majority stake in the security solution provider, with current owner Blackstone Group maintaining a minority stake. One report put the purchase price at nearly $2 billion. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

One of the first steps under the new ownership will be to sit down and "hone the master plan" to expand Optiv globally, Burns said. Optiv currently sells its products and services in 76 countries but does so primarily using partnerships and regional distributors. As one of the world's largest private equity firms, with investments and locations around the globe, Burns said KKR would prove critical as Optiv looks to establish its foothold around the world.

[Related: Security Blockbuster: Optiv Security Acquired By Private Equity Firm KKR]

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Burns said a large part of that strategy under KKR will be acquisition.

"We will have to acquire," Burn said. "I believe that is the only way to get started. We will get interesting acquisitions globally."

Burns said Optiv would likely first look to acquire in Europe, then turn to Asia. Then, he said Optiv could look to expand into South America and other regions two to three years down the line.

"[Optiv will then] truly become the global security solution provider. That is the No. 1 priority of the organization," Burns said.

Martin Wolf, president of martinwolf M&A Advisors of Walnut Creek, Calif., expects KKR to help significantly expand Optiv's international presence. "This opens the door for Optiv to move higher up the value chain," he said. "By leveraging someone like KKR that can aggregate customers, they'll build a big [security] platform. To the extent they are successful, it will be a shift in value and leverage to more customer facing people than just technologists."

Burns said Optiv believes that scale is key in today's security market. He said large enterprises are looking for solution provider partners that can help them solve big problems, see major themes in the industry and quickly bring the knowledge, people, expertise and technology to bear to address those factors.

"Our vision has always been to be large," Burns said. He noted that enterprise security has become incredibly complex and challenging to manage, but "to work with a single partner that can solve all these really complex problems more effectively and more efficiently is extremely attractive to the client."

One top channel executive, who has experience with KKR and did not want to be identified, said it is likely that KKR is looking at rolling up some security company acquisitions to form a global security powerhouse. "This is a consolidation play," he said. "They generally get involved to scale the business."

Optiv has already been very acquisitive this year, building out its business in North America and expanding its technology offerings. It acquired identity and access management company Advancive in April, third-party risk application company Evantix in May, and New England security solution provider Adaptive Communications in June.

In addition to international expansion, Burns said Optiv would also look to build out its cloud security portfolio. That push will lead to additional investments to ancillary technology areas, such as identity and access management, DLP, data security, and services, he said.

"We are in a better position than anyone else out there to make that transition [to the cloud] in a very thoughtful and secure way. You will see us investing heavily in cloud security as well and our cloud partnerships," Burns said.

Burns said Blackstone, which owned security specialist Accuvant, helped create Optiv in early 2015 when it merged Accuvant and FishNet Security. The combined companies created a $1.5 billion security behemoth, which took the name Optiv in April 2015. Burns said now Optiv is ready to move onto the next chapter under KKR.

"I think this whole thing is a journey and within that journey, there are multiple chapters," Burns said. "Chapter 1 and 2 are Accuvant and FishNet. Chapter 3 was Optiv. And, now it will be Chapter 4."

Steven Burke contributed to this story.