Updata secures a bargain from CA

Contact: Brenon Daly

When CA Technologies ‘partnered’ with Indian outsourcing firm HCL Technologies to try to offload its security business in November 2007, we termed the move a ‘kind-of, sort-of’ divestiture that was unlikely to fit well with either party. Three and a half years later, the full divestiture is finally done: CA sold it to Updata Partners last week. Although terms weren’t disclosed, we understand that Updata is paying only about $10m for the business, a price that reflects just how much the division had suffered under the joint venture. The roughly $50m in sales at the unit is less than half the level it was at the time of the CA-HCL accord.

The fact that CA got any money for its security assets surprised some. We hear from several participants that at least one bidder put forward a ‘cashless’ offer, offering to take the unit off of CA’s hands for only the assumption of liabilities. (We gather that there was some interest in the business from a few of the larger, privately held security vendors, while from the financial world, both Platinum Equity and Symphony Technology Group were rumored to be bidders.) However, the deal was a very complicated one, not the least of which because there were some questions about the revenue sharing with HCL.

The split ownership, exacerbated by uneven commitments from the two sides, meant that the security business itself was rather starved, particularly for sales and marketing support. (It didn’t help that the division focused on consumers and small businesses, while its corporate parent, CA, targets enterprises. CA will continue to sell enterprise security offerings, which is primarily its identity and access management software.) Out from under the untenable ownership structure, the security unit will likely enjoy renewed focus and resources from its soon-to-be owners at Updata as the buyout firm tries, first, to stabilize the business and then ultimately get it growing again. The deal should close next month.