Symantec to get $1.4bn less in Veritas sale

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Symantec to get $1.4bn less in Veritas sale

"Uncertainties" cut cash.

Antivirus software maker Symantec will receive US$1 billion (A$1.4bn) less in cash for its data storage unit Veritas from Carlyle Group, cutting the price of the biggest leveraged buyout of 2015 after debt backing the deal failed to sell.

Citing unspecified "uncertainties" since the deal was struck in August, Symantec said the purchase price was reduced to US$7.4 billion "in a difficult environment" from the US$8 billion it originally agreed to in August. Neither Symantec nor Carlyle would comment on the exact reasons for the reduction.

However, the renegotiation came after banks struggled to syndicate a US$5.6 billion debt package backing the deal, amid turmoil in the leveraged finance markets.

Veritas' performance has deteriorated since Symantec inked its deal with Carlyle last year, giving Carlyle more ammunition to renegotiate, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. The deal is still expected to close on Jan. 29.

Under the revised terms, Veritas will retain US$400 million in offshore cash, versus the US$200 million originally agreed.

Symantec will keep a US$400 million equity interest in Veritas and receive US$6.6 billion in cash, translating into US$5.3 billion in after-tax proceeds. That amount is US$1 billion less than originally agreed.

Veritas is a provider of backup and recovery software. Credit ratings agency Moody's warned in November that pricing pressures, the shift to cloud-based storage and other alternative storage platforms could result in Veritas underperforming the overall market.

The re-writing of the terms marks a new chapter for the roiled US leveraged buyout market, where dealmaking has slowed dramatically in the past two months as banks, faced with hundreds of millions of dollars of unsold acquisition debt, balked at providing new financing.

Symantec intended to use proceeds from the Veritas sale to compete in the cyber security market with companies such as Microsoft, Intel and Kaspersky Labs. Symantec acquired Veritas for US$13.5 billion in 2005.

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