On The Acquisition Trail: 5 Companies That Could Buy Intel Security

Heavy Hitters Only

On Sunday, reports emerged that Intel Security was exploring its options for a sale, the latest instance of a shifting landscape for the industry's biggest security vendors. The challenge with the sale, partners told CRN Monday, will be the hefty price tag likely attached to Intel Security, which was acquired for a blockbuster price of $7.7 billion in 2010 (it was then McAfee), in a market that still sees astronomical valuations for security companies. Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., broke out financials for the Intel Security group for the first time in its most recent earnings call. Intel Security's revenue for the first quarter of 2016 was $537 million, up 12 percent year over year.

Here are five companies that might be interested in the company's technology and could afford to pay a top-dollar price.

Cisco Systems

Cisco has been betting big on its security portfolio over the past year, focusing on building out a holistic set of security solutions that it says will outpace competitors Palo Alto Networks and FireEye. That ’Security Everywhere’ push has led to multiple recent acquisitions, including Lancope, OpenDNS, Portcullis and Neohapsis. Most recently, Cisco said this week that it plans to acquire cloud security startup CloudLock for $293 million. Partners said Cisco's deep pockets and a desire to continue expanding its portfolio would likely put it in the running for companies that could be interested in Intel Security.


Microsoft is another big-name vendor looking to build out its security portfolio. The Intel Security message around Security Connected and its new strategy around solutions to protect, detect and correct echoes a vision Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella laid out last fall, saying Microsoft is repositioning its security business around what it calls an ’operational security posture,’ where it would also build out a comprehensive platform for protection, detection, response and threat intelligence. Intel Security's McAfee anti-virus offerings would also build on Microsoft's Windows Defender offerings as the company looks to incorporate more enterprise-grade security offerings into Windows 10.

Private Equity

Private equity has been getting its hands more and more into the cybersecurity market, with recent examples including Ping Identity, the Dell Software Group, and a more than $1 billion strategic investment in Symantec. The initial report from the Financial Times about the sale talks noted that multiple private equity firms could band together to meet the high price for Intel Security.


Another big vendor investing heavily in security is IBM, which calls the area one of its ’strategic imperatives,’ along with cloud, analytics, mobile and social. CEO Ginni Rometty has said she wants those areas to reach around $40 billion in revenue combined, or about 40 percent of IBM's overall business. IBM said it reached $2 billion in security revenue in 2015 and hired 1,000 new security experts.

IBM also isn't shy about big buys, making multiple multibillion-dollar deals since the beginning of 2015. IBM has also been making acquisitions in the security space, most recently picking up incident response company Resilient Systems.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Another big vendor stepping up its security game in recent months is Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which has been building its portfolio of security solutions around analytics and data security. HPE has also formed partnerships with big-name security vendors, including FireEye and Fortinet. In the company's most recent second-quarter earnings call, CEO Meg Whitman said HPE is looking to drive focus at the company, particularly around what she called ’next-gen software-defined infrastructure.’ She said she doesn't necessarily think there is a ’need for acquisitions,’ but that ’if we find the right companies, we certainly will move.’ Those could include ’complementary technologies that we can put through our excellent distribution and support system.’