By Brenon Daly
When companies look for an exit, there is usually door number one (IPO) or door number two (trade sale). But in some rare cases, it’s not either/or, it’s both.
That’s playing out in two very different ways around Symantec’s (NASDAQ:SYMC) acquisition of encryption vendor PGP. The purchase by Big Yellow was the first of a doubleheader day in which it also picked up its OEM partner, GuardianEdge Technologies. (Incidentally, the PGP buy was Symantec’s largest acquisition since reaching across the Atlantic for on-demand vendor MessageLabs in October 2008.)
But back to exits. With the sale of PGP, we expect the next big liquidity event for an encryption vendor to be the IPO of SafeNet. We’ve heard recent talk of an offering for the company, which was taken private by Vector Capital in early 2007. Since its buyout, SafeNet has done a few deals of its own, including the contentious acquisition of Aladdin Knowledge Systems in August 2008. We understand that SafeNet is running at north of $400m in revenue.
The sale of PGP also means that investment firm DE Shaw has now recorded one of each potential exits over the past month. In late March, portfolio company Meru Networks (NASDAQ:MERU) went public, and now fetches a market valuation of about $250m. (The offering by Meru came after many other wireless LAN providers got snapped up.) DE Shaw also owned a chunk of PGP, meaning it will also get a payday from Symantec’s $300m purchase of the encryption vendor.