Betting on Cyber Security: Vista Inks $1B Buyout of Websense

In a sign of the growing importance of cyber security, private-equity firm Vista Equity Partners agreed to acquire Websense (NASDAQ:WBSN) on Monday in buyout valued at about $1 billion that places a 29% premium on the company’s shares.

The go-private transaction comes as corporate America remains under near-constant assault from cyber attacks that aim to slow their websites and steal lucrative intellectual property.

"Vista shares a similar vision for the company, including a dedication to developing and delivering best-in-class cyber security to our customers," Websense CEO John McCormack said in a statement.

Vista agreed to pay $24.75 a share in cash for Websense, representing a 29% premium over the San Diego company’s close at $19.23 on Friday and a 53% premium on its 60-day average closing price.

While the deal comes at a level that Websense hasn’t traded at since July 2011, the stock first traded above $24 back in late 2004.

Founded in 1994, Websense has more than 1,500 employees around the world and nearly 4,000 global channel partners.

Websense’s TRITON security solutions focus on preventing advanced persistent threats, targeted attacks and evolving malware. The company generated $361.46 million in 2012 sales, down 0.75% from the year before.

“We are long-term investors in enterprise software and data companies that are committed to being leaders in their markets," said Robert Smith, CEO and founder of Vista Equity Partners. "We are impressed with Websense's market-leading product suite and the compelling value proposition it offers to its customers.”

The companies said they anticipate the transaction closing before the end of the third quarter of this year.

After the deal closes, Websense will become a private company, but its senior management is expected to remain on board and the headquarters will remain in San Diego.

Vista said it has secured debt financing commitments for the buyout from J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), RBC Capital Markets (NYSE:RY) and Guggenheim Partners.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC) served as a financial advisor to Websense.

Shares of Websense surged 28.39% to $24.70 ahead of Monday’s opening bell, putting them on pace to double their 2013 rally of almost 28%.