Dec 10, 2019

NortonLifeLock approached by McAfee, private equity firms

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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UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx is buying Diplomat Pharmacy for $300 million

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx division is buying Diplomat Pharmacy for $300 million, roughly a month after Diplomat said it was running out of money and was exploring a sale.

Why it matters: Health insurance companies have tightened their oligopoly hold on specialty pharmacies.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019

U.S. holiday retail sales slump

Black Friday shoppers walk New York City's 5th Avenue. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Shoppers spent less at restaurants and bars in November and didn't buy as many clothes and sporting goods as they had the month prior, according to the latest advance estimates from the Commerce Department.

The big picture: Strong consumer spending largely acted as the U.S. economy's backbone for the past two quarters and much of 2018. The Federal Reserve ended its interest rate-cutting streak on Wednesday, signaling confidence that the economy doesn't need easier borrowing conditions to stay afloat.

Go deeperArrowDec 14, 2019

Economists shrug off downbeat November retail sales due to late Thanksgiving

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Wall Street shrugged in response to below-forecast consumer spending.

What's happening: Rather than interpret the data as a sign that the all-important consumer is losing steam, some are blaming November's figures on a calendar quirk — and keeping faith shoppers will continue to open up their wallets.

Go deeperArrowDec 16, 2019