Symantec to split in two for security and storage

News by Doug Drinkwater

US anti-virus manufacturer Symantec is to split its operations into two publicly traded firms that will focus on security and information management.

The announcement – which came in the same week HP revealed that it plans to spin off its PC and printer business into a new venture called Hp Inc – was made on Thursday and will see Michael Brown and Thomas Seifert stay on as CEO and CFO respectively. Quantum president and COO John Cannon has become general manager of the information management spin-off, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

More details are expected to be revealed on the firm's Q2 earnings call on November 5, although analysts are already estimating that the split could make Symantec an acquisition target for the likes of Cisco and NetApp.

Symantec's revenue from its security business was £2.6 billion in the last fiscal year, while the information management unit – which creates back-up software – had revenue of£1.55 billion over the same period.

The move will see the security division retain consumer and enterprise endpoint security, endpoint management, encryption, mobile, SSL certificates, user authentication, DLP, hosted and managed security, and mail, web and data centre security services.

The split will be tax-free to Symantec shareholders.

“We really are in two businesses, and there are a lot of disruptive trends in each,” said Brown. “The best way to execute better and grow faster is to be separating into two companies.”

In a statement provided later to, the firm said: “For partners we expect this separation will simplify doing business with Symantec and over the coming months we will be working diligently through the process to make this transition seamless for customers, partners and employees.”

Andy Buss, consulting manager and security analyst at IDC Europe, said that the decision made sense as Symantec had failed to successfully integrate the two since acquiring storage technology vendor Veritas for £8.53 billion in 2004.

“Symantec never got the integration going properly between security and information management,” he told SC, adding that the news was ‘sad' but 'made sense'.

The move will also have a knock-on effect in the security market, said Buss, who believes that the spin-off may be a sign that Symantec realises the security industry is increasingly multi-layered.

“Security is going to be even more important...anti-virus is not enough on its own anymore, you need a multi-layered strategy. Everything's a hybrid world between cloud and on-premise. That is the biggest challenge going forward.”

Marcin Kleczynski, CEO at Malwarebytes, added in an email exchange with SC that the break-up was a sign of a changing security market, and that it could result in Symantec taking a more streamlined view of the threat landscape.

“The security market is changing dramatically. Cyber-criminals and nation-state hacking groups are innovating at a furious pace and traditional security companies, often burdened with layers of bureaucracy, are struggling to keep up.  Imagination, evolution and being nimble are now absolutely vital to getting the cutting edge in this market.  This is why smaller specialised companies are flourishing in malware detection and response.  

“The decision to split Symantec in two is a perfect example of this need for focus in the security sector.  By freeing itself from the distractions created by trying to capture a variety of markets, Symantec can be more single-minded in their response to the ever advancing threat landscape.”


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