October 31, 2005 11:30 AM PST

Symantec: No end in sight for acquisitions

Symantec is intent on making more strategic acquisitions this year and will follow its Veritas Software buy with a large deal approximately every 18 months, a top company executive said.

The U.S. security giant has pursued an aggressive purchasing strategy, bossing the rapid consolidation in the market. Enrique Salem, former CEO of Symantec acquisition Brightmail, now senior vice president of security products at the company, said in an interview to expect no letup.

"We expect to keep making six to eight acquisitions per year, with perhaps a larger deal, such as Veritas, every 18 months," said Salem, who is enjoying his second spell with Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec.

Salem said Symantec CEO John Thompson actively fosters a culture within the company whereby senior executives are always on the lookout for the next buyout target.

"The best thing about being back at Symantec is that while we're always continuing to build solutions, we are also able to go out and identify the best technology in the marketplace and go and buy it," he said.

"John (Thompson) is the kind of guy I can go to and say, 'Here's who I think we should be buying, and here's the case for doing so,' and he'll just say, 'OK, go out and do it,'" Salem added.

In the past year, Symantec has completed four acquisitions, suggesting others may come sooner rather than later. But Salem wouldn't elaborate on which areas of Symantec's portfolio the company may be looking to flesh out. He ruled out a move into the fast-growing identity and access management market, which is currently enjoying a boom, though he agreed it does appear to represent a hole in the company's broad security portfolio.

"It's intentional," he said. "At the moment we're taking an agnostic approach and will continue to work with everybody in that space, instead of us bringing out our own IAM offering."

"It's a piece of the puzzle I'm happy for us not to have," he added.

In the past 18 months, Symantec has bought BindView Development, Brightmail, Liric Assoc., Sygate Technologies, Turntide, WholeSecurity and completed the $13.5 billion acquisition of storage giant Veritas.

Salem said he has been surprised by how smoothly the Veritas deal has gone. "It's almost eerie," he said.

And while he accepted that there is a great deal of skepticism in the industry surrounding the marriage of storage and security, it makes a strong "compliance play" that will be at the center of a series of Symantec releases over the coming months, Salem said. Those releases will include e-mail archiving and automatic backup in the event of a security breach or incident.

Will Sturgeon of Silicon.com reported from London.

 

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