International cyber security business Sophos is to be bought by US-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $3.9bn (£3.1bn).
The board of directors at Abingdon-based FTSE 250-listed Sophos has confirmed it will unanimously recommend the offer of $7.40 per share (583p) to shareholders.
Sophos went public in 2015 but now Thoma Bravo plans to take it private again.
Its products combat cybercriminal tactics including ransomware, malware, phishing and breaches. The company captured the international spotlight two years ago, when it helped defend the NHS and businesses from a major ransomware attack.
Sophos employs 3,400 people around the world, 589 in the UK, and has won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise three times. It has more than 400,000 customers in 150 countries.
Total group revenue for the year to March 31, 2019 was $711m (£561m), up 11 per cent on the previous year. Profit before tax was $54m (£43m), compared to a loss before tax of $41m (£32m) in 2018.
Sophos was founded by Oxford academics Dr Jan Hruska and Dr Peter Lammer, who met when they were engineering research students at Oxford University in the 1970s.
They were among the first in the world to market anti-virus software, launching the business in 1985 from Dr Hruska’s house in Kidlington. The company moved to Haddenham before relocating to Abingdon in 1990 – at which point there were just six staff.
Although Dr Hruska and Dr Lammer sold out their majority holdings to private equity firm Apax in 2010, Dr Lammer still owns 42.54m shares (8.72 per cent) in Sophos and Dr Hruska owns 37.08m shares (7.60 per cent).
As a result, Dr Lammer is likely to make $315m (£248m) and Dr Hruska $274m (£216m).
Sophos chief executive Kris Hagerman is expected to make £16.3m from selling his 0.57 per cent stake, while chief financial officer Nick Bray stands to make £1.6m from his 0.06 per cent holding.
Hagerman says: “Today marks an exciting milestone in the ongoing journey of Sophos.
“Sophos is actively driving the transition in next-generation cybersecurity solutions, leveraging advanced capabilities in cloud, machine learning, APIs, automation, managed threat response, and more.
“We continue to execute a highly-effective and differentiated strategy, and we see this offer as a compelling validation of Sophos, its position in the industry and its progress.”
For more information, see: https://investors.sophos.com/