U.K. antivirus company Sophos PLC bought the Canadian company ActiveState Corp. for US$23 million in cash, adding Active-State’s line of antispam products to Sophos’ offerings.

The deal will strengthen the position of both companies, which faced stiff competition for business customers from major antivirus vendors selling integrated antispam and antivirus products, industry experts say.

Based in Vancouver, Active-State is a six-year-old, privately held company that made a name for itself selling software development tools for open source languages

before moving into the content filtering arena, according to Steve Munford, president and chief executive officer of ActiveState.

The deal comes after the two companies formed a working relationship six months ago to cooperate in selling their technologies into large corporate accounts, according to Steve Orenberg, president of Sophos’ U.S. operations.