Antivirus software company McAfee is in advanced talks for a private deal in a deal worth more than $14 billion including debt led by private equity firm Advent International, according to two people briefed on the negotiations.
The acquisition will be one of the largest of the year and, if successful, marks the end of McAfee’s short run in the public stock markets after its initial public offering in October 2020.
Boston-based Advent is led by a group of investors, including private equity firm Permira. Canadian Investment Board CPP Retirement Plan; Crosspoint Capital, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority; and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, described the talks as advanced.
McAfee’s total debt is about $4 billion, meaning the deal would put the value of its stock at more than $10 billion.
Bloomberg first reported the talks, which sent McAfee shares closing more than 20 percent on Friday, giving the company a market value of $10.9 billion.
“We are unable to provide a response at this time,” McAfee said.
CPPIB and Permira declined to comment, while ADIA, GIC and Crosspoint did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The agreement to make McAfee private would be the latest development for a company with a colorful history. The antivirus software developer was founded in 1987 by John McAfee, who left the company in the mid-90s and eventually became a brilliant crypto entrepreneur who often settled in Belize.
In October 2020, the US Department of Justice indicted McAfee with tax evasion. He was then arrested in Spain for market tampering in March of this year and found dead in his cell near Barcelona in June.
Intel acquired McAfee in 2010 for $7.7 billion and sold a 51 percent stake in 2016 to private equity firm TPG Capital in a $4.2 billion deal. The following year, TPG sold a portion of its stake to software-focused private equity firm Thoma Bravo.
McAfee used $740 million of proceeds raised during its initial public offering in October 2020 to pay off debt.
This summer, the company sold its business to Symphony Technology Group in a $4 billion deal aimed at further reducing its balance sheet. A month after the July 2021 sale, McAfee paid a special dividend of $4.5 per share to shareholders, including TPG, Thoma Bravo, GIC and Intel.