According to two people briefed on the negotiations, McAfee is in advanced talks to go private in a deal worth more than $14 billion, including debt, led by private equity firm Advent International.
The takeover would be one of the largest of the year, and if successful, it would bring an end to McAfee’s brief run on public stock markets following its initial public offering in October 2020.
According to the people, Advent is leading a consortium of investors that includes private equity firm Permira, Canadian pension plan CPP Investment Board, Crosspoint Capital, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC.
McAfee has approximately $4 billion in total debt, implying that the transaction would increase the company’s equity value to more than $10 billion.
The talks were first reported by Bloomberg, prompting McAfee shares to rise more than 20% on Friday, valuing the company at $10.9 billion.
“We are unable to respond at this time,” McAfee said.
CPPIB and Permira declined to comment, while ADIA, GIC, and Crosspoint did not respond immediately.
A deal to take McAfee private would be the latest twist in the company’s illustrious history. The antivirus software developer was founded in 1987 by John McAfee, who left the company in the mid-1990s to become a flamboyant cryptocurrency entrepreneur who frequently based himself in Belize.
McAfee was indicted for tax evasion by the US Department of Justice in October 2020. In March of this year, he was arrested in Spain on market manipulation charges, and in June, he was found dead in his jail cell near Barcelona.
Intel paid $7.7 billion for McAfee in 2010 and sold a 51% stake to private equity firm TPG Capital for $4.2 billion in 2016. TPG sold a portion of its stake to Thoma Bravo, a software-focused private equity firm, the following year.
McAfee used $740 million of the proceeds from its IPO in October 2020 to repay debt.
This summer, the company sold its enterprise business to Symphony Technology Group for $4 billion in an effort to deleverage its balance sheet even further. McAfee paid a $4.5 per share special dividend to shareholders, which included TPG, Thoma Bravo, GIC, and Intel, a month after the July 2021 sale.