Blue Coat acquired by equity firm for $1.3 billion

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Blue Coat Systems, a provider of web security products, announced Friday it has been acquired by private equity investment firm Thoma Bravo for $1.3 billion.

Blue Coat, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., makes cloud-based security solutions designed to protect enterprises from malware, data leakage and other web threats. It also makes solutions used to speed up networks.

Under the deal, Blue Coat shareholders stand to receive $25.81 in cash for each share of Blue Coat stock they own. The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2012.

Blue Coat recently became the subject of controversy after it was discovered that its products were being used by the Syrian government to censor and monitor web activity during a violent crackdown against dissidents. Last month, the U.S. Commerce Department said it was investigating whether Blue Coat knew about such actions, though the company has denied selling to the Syrian government.

“We don't want our products to be used by the government of Syria or any other country embargoed by the United States,” the company said in a statement posted to its website.

Meanwhile, this is Thoma Bravo's fifth security and IT technology platform buy. The firm acquired Entrust, a provider of enterprise authentication and digital signature solutions, in April 2009, and SonicWall, which makes network security and data protection offerings, in June 2010. Additionally, Thoma Bravo picked up LANDesk Software, a maker of enterprise IT management solutions, in August 2010, and Tripwire, a network security and compliance automation solutions provider, in May.

Scott Crawford, managing research director of security and risk management at consultancy EMA, said in a blog post Friday that Blue Coat's focus on security and IT optimization fits with the portfolio of solutions Thoma Bravo has gained over the past several years.

“I personally expect WAN optimization to play a significant role in integrating on-premises IT with cloud technologies – particularly when security must be integrated inline – and Blue Coat has strength there as well,” Crawford wrote.

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