Take the next exit

In addition to clobbering existing stocks, the recent financial crisis has thinned the ranks of companies that we had expected to offer up stock in the coming months. In the past week alone, two companies that we had short-listed as IPO candidates (back when there was an IPO market) both got swallowed in trade sales.

On Wednesday, MessageLabs took a $695m offer from Symantec to help establish Big Yellow’s on-demand security offering. We understand MessageLabs had put together its underwriting ticket, and was planning to hit the market once the IPO window opened again. The IPO track was a distinct change from the path rumored for MessageLabs for more than two years. Several sources have indicated that MessageLabs had been shopped widely, with Trend Micro considered the most serious suitor at times.

And last week, we had to take LeftHand Networks out of the ‘shadow IPO pipeline’ when Hewlett-Packard came calling with a $360m offer. For more than a year we have noted that, pending the return of the market for new offerings, LeftHand appeared set to join the IPO parade of storage vendors (a half-dozen storage companies have gone public in the past two years). Instead, LeftHand sold, in a deal banked by Merrill Lynch. Incidentally, Merrill Lynch also banked the sale of another company that had its eye on the public market: Postini, a direct rival to MessageLabs, went to Google for $625m in July 2007.

One thought on “Take the next exit

  1. Compared to Google/Postini, Symantec got a great deal paying 5x trailing earnings for the #1 player in the market versus Google’s 7x earnings for the #2 Postini.

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