US firm offers $110m for SecureNet

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ASX-listed Internet security provider SecureNet is to be bought out for $110 million by a global rival, business security vendor beTRUSTed Holdings, pending a shareholder decision in August.

US-based beTRUSTed Holdings Inc, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, has offered $110 million in cash for all the Melbourne-based company's shares.

SecureNet shareholders will be bought out for $1.57 a share, representing a 78 percent premium to the company's closing share price of 88 cents a share on 7 July, when trading was halted pending the announcement, and a 54 percent premium to the company's estimated cash backing per share of $1.02 at the end of this financial year on 30 June. The final decision will be made in August.

SecureNet's directors Geoff Ross and David Greatorex have voted to recommend that all shareholders accept the offer. “This is a very good offer for a very good business,” Ross said. “If this happens, SecureNet will be taken globally to a new level. It can become a significant element in a global business--which I think is fantastic.”

He said beTRUSTed, which has competed with SecureNet on bids in the UK, had operations in the US and in Europe but not in the Asia-Pacific. SecureNet would be strengthened by the businesses' complementarity and synergy, he said.

“It means beTRUSTed will become the largest provider in the world of managed security services and gives us a global platform to deliver SecureNet services. And we were a small Australian start-up which managed our way up,” Ross said.

According to Ross, the company had not been seeking buyers but when the beTRUSTed offer came out of the blue but was too good to refuse. In the last six months, the company has traded as low as 60 cents a share.

“The directors believe that the offer from beTRUSTed is in the best interests of all our shareholders and recognises the underlying value of the company,” he said. “The amazing thing about these two businesses is we actually had the same strategy and it's very unusual to have such a commonality of vision. Global net security is by nature global, so there's no room for the local provider out there who isn't a niche player,” Ross said.

Greatorex and Ross, who control 12.3 percent of SecureNet shares, have entered into pre-bid acceptance agreements with beTRUSTed Holdings to accept the offer. All options over unissued shares will be dealt with “on a basis consistent with the offer for the shares”, the company said in its release to the ASX this morning.

Ross said SecureNet made $20 million in revenue last financial year and has 160 staff around Australia, spread around its three main offices in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. The company invoices approximately 150 business and government customers a year.


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