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KKR Eyes Optiv IPO Or Sale At More Than $3B Valuation: Report

Michael Novinson

KKR has had conversations with investment banks about how to cash out of Optiv, and a potential sale of the cybersecurity solution provider could attract interest from other private equity firms, Reuters reported.

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KKR is looking to unload Optiv via an IPO or sale to another private equity firm at a valuation of more than $3 billion, Reuters reported.

The New York-based private equity giant has had conversations with investment banks about how to cash out of Denver-based Optiv, No. 25 on the 2021 CRN Solution Provider 500, which KKR acquired on Feb. 1, 2017. A potential sale of Optiv could attract interest from other private equity firms, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Spokespeople for Optiv and KKR both declined CRN’s request for comment. Optiv generates annual revenue of about $650 million and cash flow of about $150 million, a source told Reuters. That’s down sharply from annual sales of $947 million in 2015, the last full year for which Optiv disclosed topline revenue.

[Related: 10 Big Cybersecurity Bets For 2022 From Optiv CEO Kevin Lynch]

KKR agreed in December 2016 to purchase Optiv for a reported $2 billion just weeks after the company filed for an initial public offering. Optiv had sales of $643.8 million for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2016, down 1 percent from a year earlier. But the company was also at the time carrying a whopping $651.8 million of debt, which it was hoping to pay down through an IPO.

The $1.5 billion security behemoth was formed in February 2015 from the merger of security giants Accuvant and FishNet Security, and the company began doing business under the name Optiv in April 2015. The company was primarily owned by private equity firm Blackstone Group, which had previously owned Accuvant.

Under KKR’s control, Optiv in April 2020 tapped 20-year Deloitte veteran Kevin Lynch to take over as CEO from Dan Burns, who had co-founded Accuvant in 2002 and led Optiv since its formation in 2015. Lynch has advanced Optiv’s evolution under KKR from provisioning and reselling security technology to delivering advisory, configuration, implementation, and managed services.

But Optiv’s transformation into a security systems integrator has created points of friction that could slow the field sales team down as the company continues to grow, Lynch warned when he stepped into the CEO role. Lynch told CRN in April 2020 that he planned to invest in underpenetrated market segments and verticals, pursue strategic outsourcing engagements, and streamline corporate initiatives.

In his first 18 months on the job, Lynch has moved Optiv up the value stack to provide customers with strategic and architectural services and managing and operating infrastructure on behalf of customers. Lynch also modified Optiv’s approach to vendor relationships, shifting from a model where the biggest suppliers got the most attention to one that prioritizes strategic engagement and joint services delivery.

Optiv has had the need for speed since Lynch’s arrival since he believes customers and prospects make decisions about digital transformation initiatives based more on speed to delivery than either price or quality. Specifically, Lynch expects Optiv to respond to customers or prospects coming forward with a need in less than one day rather than multiples and multiples of that currently.

“We think where we’re heading is a really attractive space,” Lynch said in October 2021. “This notion of being all things to a select set of clients and doing it very well and doing it fast and getting our materiality to rise with that client base equals growth.”

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