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Exclusive: Symantec sticks to plan as bankers circle
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investment bankers are pitching to advise Symantec Corp (SYMC.O) on strategic options as some shareholders push to break up the company, but the software maker has not made a decision to hire bankers and remains on track with its own strategy, sources familiar with the situation said.
So far Symantec has not been convinced that there is a different strategy which will create more value for its shareholders, two of the sources said.
Investors have watched shares in the world's largest maker of security software languish while the tech-laden Nasdaq .IXIC has rallied and rival McAfee Inc agreed to be bought by Intel Corp (INTC.O) at a 60 percent premium.
Last month, Symantec Chief Executive Enrique Salem articulated a new strategy for boosting sales and profits that calls for improving cooperation between the company's three units that sell security software for businesses, storage management programs for businesses and consumer PC security software.
But some investors are looking for more and are ready to push for change. Relational Investors, known for shareholder activism, has been boosting its stake in Symantec, sources told Reuters last week. It is being joined by other activist shareholders who are taking bigger stakes in the company, one source said at the time.
Among the changes that Relational will consider include pushing the software company to split its two core businesses of storage and security, the source said last week.
Meanwhile, bankers are pitching various options to the company, including a large leveraged share buyback or a split up, a third source said on Wednesday.
Status quo is not an option, the source said, adding that the company should communicate its position to shareholders.
"They need to tell their story that they don't want to break up the business and that they will be able to create more value for shareholders combined between storage and security," the source said. "They should get out there and say it."
Symantec's spokeswoman Genevieve Haldeman said the company has a crisis communications firm working for it. She declined to name the firm but said it has been working for Symantec for several years.
Haldeman declined to comment on whether the company would hire any financial adviser.
"Any company that's had the kind of noise we've had over the past week would have a lot of people banging down their door," she said. "That doesn't mean we are doing anything. That doesn't mean we are talking to anybody."
The sources are anonymous because these discussions are not public.
Salem was in New York for two days this week, but his trip had been planned before the reports about investor activism surfaced, Haldeman said. Symantec is based in Mountain View, California.
"He regularly meets with investors. This just happened to be something that was already on the calendar," she said.
Salem has been telling investors the company likes its current strategy and that the assets it owns are critical to it, but that it is also cognizant of all the options that are available to it, one of the sources said.
Another source said Symantec is also letting investors know how integrated the storage and security businesses are and how difficult it would be to separate them.
Salem has also met Relational within the last two weeks, two of the sources said.
(Reporting by Nadia Damouni and Paritosh Bansal in New York, and Jim Finkle in Boston; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)
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