Maybe M&A for McAfee?

Contact: Brenon Daly, Andrew Hay

With the ink barely dry on the M&A papers of SolarWinds’ purchase of TriGeo, we understand that another deal in the enterprise security information management (ESIM) market may be already in the works. Several industry sources have indicated that McAfee and NitroSecurity are thought to be close to an agreement that would give Intel’s subsidiary a solid ESIM offering.

McAfee has been looking in this market for some time. We gather that the company lobbed a bid (thought be in the neighborhood of $600m) for ESIM kingpin ArcSight before that company went public in February 2008. More recently, we weren’t surprised to hear that McAfee was in the process early for ArcSight last summer but got outbid by Hewlett-Packard, which ended up paying $1.65bn, or a steep 8 times trailing revenue for ArcSight.

If the acquisition indeed comes together, NitroSecurity would make a great deal of sense for McAfee. NitroSecurity, which we understand is running at about $40m in revenue, sells big-ticket installations to enterprises and the federal government – a market that McAfee clearly wants to be in. (NitroSecurity is also one of the few security vendors that has been able to crack into the industrial control system market, which gives the company a shot at lucrative contracts securing some of the nation’s critical infrastructure.)

The only other ESIM provider of size that might also give McAfee a comparable presence in the enterprise market would be Q1 Labs. However, that firm has a deep relationship with Juniper Networks, which is its single largest OEM partner. Nonetheless, Q1 has ascribed itself a fairly rich valuation, according to sources. The market may well soon have its vote on that, as Q1 recently indicated that it is looking toward an IPO.