$2.07bn? That's one Dell of a deal to offload infosec biz RSA

Texan tech giant hacks off part of security real estate, sells to consortium


Dell Technologies is flogging its infosec business RSA for $2.075bn as it tries to reduce its longstanding debt.

The sale, rubber stamped today, was made to a consortium led by STG Partners, a private equity investor that specialises in tech; Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board; and Dutch private equity group, AlpInvest Partners.

RSA helps companies confirm user IDs and manage other digital security risks. It serves 30,000 customers ranging from banks to consumer-goods makers. It also runs security conferences, including one scheduled for this month in San Francisco that IBM dropped out of recently.

"This is the right long-term strategy for Dell, RSA, and our collective customers and partners," said Jeff Clarke, CEO and veep of Dell Technologies. "The transaction will further simplify our business and product portfolio. It also allows Dell Technologies to focus on our strategy to build automated and intelligent security into infrastructure, platforms and devices to keep data safe, protected and resilient."

Dell acquired RSA as part of its whopping $67bn deal to buy storage giant EMC in 2016, one of the largest tech mergers in history. EMC itself bought RSA for $2.1bn in 2006 to shore up its security line.

Previously Dell considered selling its stake in Secureworks, though it has also considered buying out the remaining stake in that business. No such indecision was seen in the RSA sale.

The left-of-field move comes at a time when infosec businesses have become increasingly desirable to companies as they to keep pace with the rapidly evolving digital threat sector. And last year, Broadcom bought Symantec's enterprise business for $10.7bn. Intel-owned McAfee has considered an IPO and a tie-up with NortonLifeLock, Symantec's consumer business leftover from the Broadcom deal.

Dell is trying to pay down $49bn in long-term debt, mostly amassed from the EMC buy. To this end, the company returned to public markets in 2018, opting for a complex $24bn cash-and-equity deal rather than a traditional IPO.

Although the company's PCs have been selling well – growing 5 per cent year-on-year to $11.4bn in Q3 of 2019 – enterprise kit continued to struggle amid falling demand and last year's global trade tensions. Its server and networking business revenues dropped 16 per cent for the third consecutive quarter to $4.24bn.

Last year, Dell EMC was forced to lower its annual forecasts by more than $1bn on the back of Intel's protracted CPU shortages. The company said it expects full-year sales to come in between $91.5bn and $92.2bn – well down on its previous estimates of $92.7bn to $94.2bn.®

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