Private equity house Thoma Bravo is reported to be in talks with McAfee owners Intel and TPG Capital to buy the cybersecurity firm.
The firm, which manages some £30 billion, already has a minority interest in McAfee.
Intel bought California-based McAfee in 2011 for $7.7 billion.
It completed the sale of a 51 percent stake in the company to TPG for $4.2 billion last year. (Thoma Brava has a minority share in the company through an April 2017 agreement with TPG.) Sources told Reuters that the talks were in their early stages.
Thoma Brava is a private equity house focused on the software and technology-enabled services sectors.
It has already completed more than 30 total acquisitions of enterprise security companies to date and is aggressively pursuing further deals.
Its latest was an agreement, last month, to buy application security testing firm Veracode from Broadcom for $950 million in cash.
Further investments include SailPoint, Barracuda Networks, LogRhythm, Bomgar, BlueCoat Systems, SonicWall and Entrust.
The firm was last month reported to have also approached Symantec with a takeover offer.
McAfee, which holds some 1,200 security technology patents, employs over 7,200 globally, with a UK team approximately 300-strong.
Its software is installed on 561 million total endpoints, including 87 percent of the world’s largest banks, and in the UK works closely with clients including the Ministry of Defence.
It has had a complex recent history: Intel bought the firewall specialist 2010 for a striking $7.68 billion and rebranded it Intel Security.
(The name McAfee became more closely associated with the company’s founder, John McAfee, who retired to Belize only to be accused of his neighbor’s murder and who is now running for President and promoting cryptocurrencies.)
In 2017 Intel spun it off again to pursue “pure-play” cybersecurity.
Thoma Brava commented at the time, taking its minority interest:”“McAfee is a global organization with a 30-year history and a brand known the world over for innovation, trust and collaboration. Given our years of focus on the security software sector, we see great opportunity for McAfee to continue to advance and innovate.”
Seth Boro, a Managing Partner at the firm, added: “Our deep sector knowledge and history of helping build successful businesses will be an asset to the company, and we look forward to working with the management team and our colleagues at TPG and Intel to guide McAfee through its next chapter of growth.”