Intel Ponders Sale Of McAfee-Sourced Cyber Security Division Amidst Restructuring Campaign

Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, is reportedly mulling a sale of its cyber security business, depending on how much it's worth on the open market. The Santa Clara outfit would like to recoup the nearly $7.7 billion it paid for McAfee in 2010. Now known as Intel Security, it could be an enticing option for private equity investors looking to buy a stake in the fast growing cyber security market.

With high profile security breaches on the rise, corporate entities are looking for ways to keep their businesses safe from online threats. That's created a hot market for security firms. As the Financial Times points out, Bain Capital sold Blue Coat Security to Symantec for nearly twice what it paid for the cyber defense company a year ago, while Vista Equity Partners acquired authentication service provider Ping Identity ahead of its planned initial public offering in June.

Intel

It's not inconceivable that Intel could sell its security division for the same price or even more than it paid for McAfee nearly six years ago, assuming it goes forward with a sale. Originally Intel had big plans for the antivirus software and related IP. Those plans included embedding cyber security features onto its microprocessors for deeper level protection, and it would be up to device makers whether or not to enable the option.

Those plans still haven't come to fruition. Part of the reason is because several key members of Intel's security team have since left the company, including David DeWalt, the chief executive who helped spearhead the sale—he now works at FireEye. Mike DeCasare was hired to replace DeWalt, but he left Intel in 2014.

More recently, Intel announced a restructuring effort that will see the chipmaker shift its focus from standalone, client PCs to growth markets like the cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT). Intel's trying to stay ahead of the curve, and except for 2-in-1 devices and gaming systems, PC sales have been declining the past few years. That's affected Intel's ability to sell client processors, and by extension, it may have permanently nixed its plan of embedding security from its McAfee purchase into CPUs.

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