State of the UK cybersecurity M&A market

UK cybersecurity vendors often look to foreign buyers to best expand their markets, but a few local firms are buying companies internationally.

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Though a smaller market than the US, the UK cybersecurity M&A and VC market is active and growing. Some sizable deals in the UK have made headlines in the global technology press, most notably Thoma Bravo’s acquisition of Sophos for $3.9 billion last year.

“Cybersecurity remains a top target for acquisition around the world and the UK is no exception. Deal flow in this space has been consistent since 2015,” says Jonathan Simnett, director at technology M&A advisory firm, Hampleton Partners.

UK cybersecurity market in 2019

For years Sophos was the busiest deal-making cybersecurity company in the UK. In 2019 alone it made three acquisitions of US companies: cloud security startup Avid Secure, endpoint security platform DarkBytes and managed detection and response (MDR) provider Rook Security.

In 2019, private equity firm Thoma Bravo bought the Cambridge-based Sophos for $3.9 billion. Though Sophos was its only security buy in 2019, Thoma already has other security firms in its portfolio, including Imperva, Barracuda Networks and Veracode. Henrik Jeberg, director at Hampleton Partners, has previously told CSO that being bought by Thoma will allow Sophos – which had primarily targeted the mid-market — “on the fast lane towards developing next-gen cybersecurity solutions for the enterprise.”

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