Private equity firm Vista Equity Partners has agreed to acquire Websense Inc. (NASDAQ: WBSN) for $24.75 a share in cash, or a total of about $907 million. The Internet security firm will become a privately held company once the transaction is completed, currently expected to occur in the third quarter of this year.
Websense’s senior management is expected to remain in place after the acquisition is completed. Under terms of the agreement, a subsidiary of Vista will commence a tender offer for all outstanding shares of Websense. If the tender does not meet a minimum (unspecified) number of shares tendered, Vista and Websense will complete the transaction in a one-step merger, following shareholder approval.
Four of six Internet security companies are showing share price gains for the past 12 months. The biggest gainer is Vasco Data Security International Inc. (NASDAQ: VDSI), up nearly 22%, followed by Sourcefire Inc. (NASDAQ: FIRE), up about 8.5%; Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW), up about 6%; and Websense, up nearly 4%. Fortinet Inc. (NASDAQ: FTNT) and CheckPoint Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CHKP) have both posted declines in the past year.
The trick for these firms is either to get their noses into the federal government trough or to persuade private firms that they need better security given the increasing number of attacks.
Websense shares are up about 28.3% in the premarket this morning, at $24.67, well above the 52-week range of $12.70 to $19.36.