Photo: Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images)

NortonLifeLock, a consumer cybersecurity software maker, has received takeover interest from rival McAfee, per the WSJ. The private equity pairing of Advent International and Permira also may bid.

Why it matters: Because any deal would involve big dollars — NortonLifeLock's market cap is nearly $16 billion — and a complex backstory.

Background: NortonLifeLock is the consumer business of what was known as Symantec, before it recently sold its enterprise business to Broadcom.

  • Activist investor Starboard Value has a 7% stake in NortonLifeLock and a board seat.
  • Advent and Permira originally offered to buy Symantec in its entirety and then do the enterprise sale to Broadcom, but were denied.
  • Both the PE firms and Broadcom also once flirted with acquiring the entire Symantec business.
  • Then there's McAfee, whose owners are TPG Capital, Thoma Bravo, and Intel. It's toyed with going public, but also could do a similar consumer/enterprise split, with the consumer piece boosted by NortonLifeLock.

The bottom line: "Symantec had spent about $7 billion in recent years on two high-profile acquisitions, cloud-security company Blue Coat, and LifeLock, that were met with initial enthusiasm from investors. But those deals did little to jump-start growth, prompting Starboard—and now potential buyers—to get involved." — WSJ

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