Exclusive: Elliott target Gigamon prepares to explore a sale - sources

(Reuters) - Gigamon Inc, a U.S. network monitoring software maker targeted by activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp, is preparing to hold talks with potential suitors interested in acquiring it, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move would push Gigamon closer to being acquired, after Elliott reported a 15.3 percent stake in the company in May and said it would encourage it to undergo a strategic review process that could also include a sale.

Gigamon is working with investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc as it prepares to engage in talks with companies and private equity firms interested in a deal, the sources said this week. No sale process has started yet, the sources added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Gigamon, which has a market capitalization of $1.5 billion, and Goldman Sachs both declined to comment. Elliott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gigamon could attract interest from companies such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co and F5 Networks Inc, as well as technology-focused private equity firms such as Thoma Bravo Llc. Riverbed Technology, now owned by Thoma Bravo, bought Gigamon competitor Opnet in 2012 for $1 billion.

Gigamon, based in Santa Clara, California, makes software that is installed in large data centers to boost the flow of traffic and prevent bottlenecks. Some of its competitors have been acquired in recent months, including Ixia, which Keysight Technologies Inc bought earlier this year for $1.6 billion.

Elliott has succeeded in pushing many technology companies to sell themselves in recent years, including Mentor Graphics, LifeLock Inc and Qlik Technologies.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco and Michael Flaherty in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis