• Buyout firm said to weigh offer valuing McAfee at $3 billion
  • Permira, Thoma Bravo are said to end active work on bidding

TPG is among potential bidders for Intel Corp.’s computer-security unit McAfee, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The private equity firm has held preliminary discussions with Intel about a deal that could value McAfee at as much as $3 billion, said the people, who asked not to be named because the process is private. Intel is also talking to other potential bidders, including buyout firms and corporate suitors, they said.

Talks are at an early stage and Intel may choose not to sell the business, the people said. The chipmaker hasn’t hired banks to run a formal sale process, they said.

Some buyout firms that had shown preliminary interest in McAfee, including Permira Holdings and Thoma Bravo, are not currently actively pursuing the unit, the people said. The potential suitors were put off by slower-than-expected growth of the business and a lack of obvious cost reductions, two of the people said.

Representatives for TPG, Intel and Thoma Bravo declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Permira didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Intel is considering offloading the anti-virus software unit as part of a strategy to focus on its more profitable data-center business. The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker acquired McAfee in 2011 for $7.7 billion to build security features directly into its silicon products.

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