Avast and Norton in talks over multi-billion dollar merger

The two competitors could join forces to become the biggest name in the consumer security market

Avast and NortonLifeLock, two of the most widely-recognised consumer security software companies, are engaging in advanced talks over a potential merger.

Both companies have separately confirmed that negotiations are underway following a cash-and-share offer that NortonLifeLock proposed to Avast. Discussions are ongoing, however, and there’s no guarantee that any deal will be reached by the 11 August deadline set by UK takeover code.

NortonLifeLock said that a merger would bring together "two companies with aligned visions and highly complementary business profiles" while expanding on their joint commitment to innovate in the realm of consumer cyber security.

The company added that any merger would pull from the best of both companies to benefit customers, while also providing value for employees and shareholders.

Both NortonLifeLock and Avast develop and distribute consumer-oriented antivirus software platforms as well as utilities such as virtual private networks (VPNs), password managers, and device performance tuning tools.

Neither company stated how much the deal could be worth, although the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has estimated that any potential merger could be in the region of $8 billion, based on its valuation of Avast. Norton itself is valued at roughly twice that.

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This would be the second major deal involving NortonLifeLock in recent years, following an acquisition in which the company, formerly known as Symantec Corporation, sold its enterprise security business to Broadcom. Accenture, in turn, agreed to buy the Symantec division from Broadcom only a few months later.

Following the sale, the company formerly known as Symantec Corporation rebranded to NortonLifeLock, a combination of the Norton 360 antivirus and LifeLock products the firm still developed and distributed.

Symantec was initially founded in 1982 as a company that focused on AI projects, before pivoting to software development through a series of acquisitions during the 80s. In May 1990, Symantec announced it had merged with Peter Norton Computing, a firm that developed various utilities for DOS.

The combined entity then pivoted to cyber security and antivirus software, developing a series of products under the Norton brand. Symantec subsequently acquired LifeLock in November 2016 for $2.3 billion.

The aforementioned Broadcom deal saw the Symantec brand split from the company with the sale of its enterprise security division, leaving NortonLifeLock as the remaining entity.

Avast has enjoyed a less complicated history, having been founded as a security firm in 1998 in the Czech Republic, under the brand Alwil Software. At the time, the company's main software product was called Avast, with the firm finally adopting this as its name in 2010.

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