Intel’s McAfee Unit Draws Interest From Thoma, Permira

  • Intel said to be considering sale of computer-security unit
  • Company has spoken with banks but is yet to hire advisers

Intel Corp.’s computer-security unit, McAfee, is drawing interest from private equity firms as the company considers selling the business, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Thoma Bravo, Permira and Vista Equity Partners are among firms conducting preliminary research on McAfee in the event of a sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

While Intel has held discussions with banks about an auction of the unit, according to the people, none have been hired and Intel may choose to keep McAfee. The Financial Times reported last month that Intel is weighing options for the business.

A spokeswoman for Intel declined to comment. A representative for Permira declined to comment, while spokesmen for Thoma Bravo and Vista didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Intel is considering offloading McAfee, which made its name as an anti-virus software provider for personal computers, as it moves away from investments in the shrinking PC market business and concentrates on offerings for its more profitable data-center business.

The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker agreed to acquire the software company in 2010 for $7.7 billion to in order to build security features directly into its silicon and gain an edge for its products.

That took longer than Intel had predicted, and as a part of the company’s software division the unit continues to under-perform the chipmaker’s main businesses.

In 2015, Intel’s software and services division, which has other products outside of security, contributed $2.2 billion of revenue and $210 million of operating profit. That gives it an operating margin that’s less than half of Intel overall.

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