Czech cyber security firm Avast bought by US firm in astronomical deal

The hugely successful Czech multination cyber security firm Avast is being taken over by a US rival, the software company NortonLifeLock, in a deal worth over USD 8 billion, The Financial Times has reported.

Going by Norton’s share prior to the offer period, the merger has valued Avast at between USD 8.1 billion and USD 8.6 billion. The companies revealed they were in talks on a takeover in July.

Avast was founded in Prague in 1988, prior to the fall of communism, by Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš, who had met at the Research Institute for Mathematical Machines.

Baudiš discovered a virus on a floppy disk and developed a programme to remove it and he and Kučera then set up Avast as a cooperative.

Avast became one of the dominant players in the consumer anti-virus market and went public on the London Stock Exchange in 2018.

The new company – whose name has not yet been revealed – will be based in Prague and in Tempe in the US state of Arizona.

Under the deal, Norton will get access to the Czech firm’s 435 million users around the globe. Most users opt for a free version of the company’s antivirus programme.

Avast, which has over 1,700 employees, says it blocks around 1.5 billion computer attacks each month. Its founders retain a stake of around 35 percent in the company.

Avast CEO Ondřej Vlček said that prior to the completion of the merger both companies would need to hold general meetings.

In addition, the transaction, which should be finalised in nine or 10 months at the soonest, will need to obtain all the required regulatory approvals in a number of countries where the firms operate, Mr. Vlček said.

The Avast CEO said the merger would mean annual cost savings of around USD 280 million as well as further potential synergies on the energy side, thanks to the opportunity to enter a new market.

Mr. Vlček also said that online criminals were capitalising on the Covid pandemic as people moved into work from home on less secure networks.

With global cyber threats growing but safety penetration still low, Avast and Norton will be able to accelerate their shared vision of providing holistic protection to consumers around the globe, he said.