Symantec acquires AXENT

The security appliance market got a jolt last month when

Symantec Corp. announced that it will be acquiring AXENT Technologies Inc. in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at approximately US$975 million.

“In terms of customer base, Symantec has been very strong in the middle market, consumer space and Global 2000. AXENT has been extremely strong in the Fortune 50 and, of course, the market strengths, we believe, are extremely complimentary,” said Gail Hamilton, senior vice-president of Symantec’s enterprise solutions division during a teleconference.

Symantec, based in Cupertino, Calif., is best known for its Norton line of antivirus software and content-filtering solutions. Rockville, Md.-based AXENT’s offerings include its NetProwler solution, Raptor Firewall and other VPN, vulnerability assessment and Internet intrusion-detection offerings. The merger will enable the companies to become “a billion-dollar company by the end of Symantec’s fiscal year, which would be the March 2001 timeframe,” Hamilton predicted.

Symantec’s recognized name in the antivirus arena, coupled with AXENT’s enterprise relationships and offerings will position the company as the leader in the Internet security market, she said.

This type of merger will give people what they desire, according to Greg Coticchia, the vice-president of marketing at AXENT. Customers want fewer vendors when dealing with their security systems, he said.

“They’re looking for trusted security partners as security has moved in an interconnected and connected world from being a necessary evil to a business enabler,” he explained.

Another aspect involved in the acquisition is for the companies to be able to “accelerate our enterprise vision of scalable products to the marketplace,” Hamilton said. “And of course we now have a broad range of security and managed security services that we can offer, which is so critical to the enterprise customer base.”

According to Carolyn DiCenzo, chief analyst with San Jose, Calif.-based Dataquest, a division of Gartner Inc., “The combined company should benefit from Symantec’s brand recognition, the combination of Symantec’s 2700 employees with AXENT’s 675 employees, and the complementary channels.”

It is too soon to tell how this merger will affect customers, DiCenzo pointed out. But by joining the two companies together, it certainly means that a stronger company will exist, especially as Symantec already has a strong, established brand name.

“It all boils down to the ability to execute,” she said. “An acquisition can be really beneficial, or it can be a disaster, and it really depends on how well the companies integrate together.”

Symantec has not done a lot of major acquisitions in the past, she explained, so this will certainly be a test to see how it fares. But there are no bad signs thus far, she explained.

“The jury is still out, but there is nothing that would prevent it from being positive for Symantec as it tries to move into the corporate space more aggressively and taking its antivirus products there,” DiCenzo related.

She noted that as Symantec continues to move the company focus to the enterprise security market, it would be a wise choice for it to keep its focus on the sales of its

PC utility products as well.

“These well-known products are an excellent source of funds and the company would be wise to pull these products into a separate division so their sales focus is not lost,” she said.

For more information about the companies and their products, visit Symantec at, or AXENT at