Symantec explores selling web certificates business: sources

FILE PHOTO: The Symantec logo is pictured on a screen June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) - Cybersecurity firm Symantec Corp SYMC.O is considering selling its website certification business, in a deal that could fetch more than $1 billion and extricate it from a feud with Alphabet Inc's GOOGL.O Google, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Google said in March that it was investigating Symantec’s failure to properly validate its certificates, which confirm that websites can be trusted. Symantec has called Google’s claims “exaggerated and misleading.”

Symantec is in talks with a small number of companies and private equity firms about the potential sale, three sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. There is no certainty that a deal will occur, the sources added.

Symantec declined to comment. A representative for Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Symantec acquired most of its web certification business in 2010, when it paid $1.28 billion to buy Verisign Inc's VRSN.O security business. The unit has about $400 million in revenue, according to one of the sources.

Symantec said in June it was reviewing a proposal by Google and other internet companies to help fix issues with its security certificates. It said it is speaking to its partners about how to minimize disruptions to customers while also “reassuring trust in Symantec certificates.”

Chief Executive Officer Greg Clark has been transforming Mountain View, California-based Symantec by jettisoning slow-growth units and spending billions of dollars on acquisitions. It has been moving away from services that are more commoditized, selling its data storage business Veritas in January 2016 to private equity firm Carlyle Group LP CG.O for $7.4 billion.

Symantec completed its $2.3 billion acquisition of LifeLock Inc in February, a move that will bolster its consumer security business. That followed the purchase of Blue Coat Inc for $4.65 billion in August 2016, which expanded its product line for large corporations.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Richard Chang and Lisa Shumaker