EXCLUSIVE KKR explores sale or IPO of cybersecurity consultant Optiv -sources

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Buyout firm KKR & Co Inc (KKR.N) is exploring a sale or an initial public offering for Optiv Security Inc, a U.S. cybersecurity solutions distributor and consultant it controls at a valuation of more than $3 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

KKR has held discussions with investment banks about how to cash out of Optiv, which it acquired five years ago, the sources said. A potential sale of Optiv could attract interest from other private equity firms, the sources added, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential and the deliberations are preliminary and may not lead to any deal.

Optiv generates annual revenue of about $650 million and cash flow of about $150 million, one of the sources said.

A KKR spokesperson declined to comment, while Optiv did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Optiv was formed in 2015 through the merger of cybersecurity firms Accuvant and FishNet Security. A major player in the security solutions space, it has grown from a technology reseller to a one-stop provider of managed security services by knitting together thousands of security products.

KKR acquired a majority stake in the Denver, Colorado-based company in 2017 from private equity firms Blackstone Inc (BX.N), Investcorp and Sverica Capital. Media reports at the time pegged the value of that deal at nearly $2 billion, as the company reported $643.8 million in revenue on about $651 million debt in the first nine months of 2016.

Since its acquisition by KKR, Optiv has expanded into Canada and Europe by snapping up smaller firms. It serves over 7,000 companies across industries, including 75% of the Fortune 500, according to the company's website.

Reporting by Krystal Hu and Chibuike Oguh in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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