Private equity owners of antivirus company Avast have hired Rothschild to check out a £3bn IPO

Lucy White
Recent cyber attacks have helped raise the profile of security software firms like Avast (Source: Getty)

The owners of computer antivirus business Avast Software have hired bankers to prepare the company for a sale, which could attract a price tag of up to £3bn, according to Reuters.

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which took a majority stake in the business in 2014, has appointed Rothschild to explore potential sale routes.

A London stock market listing is one option, sources told Reuters, and if successful it would represent the UK's largest ever technology IPO.

Read more: London dominates the IPO market as financial services sector shines

However, several other companies have recently pulled stock market floats in favour of a private sale. CVC itself made a winning €1.75bn (€1.55bn) bid last month for business services firm TMF Group, which was in the advanced stages of an IPO.

Budget fitness chain Pure Gym, which backtracked on its steps towards a public listing last year, was snapped up earlier this month by US private equity house Leonard Green & Partners for £600m.

In a further blow to London's public markets, broadcasting mast firm Arqiva and ready meal business Bakkavor abandoned their plans to float at the beginning of this month.

Things were looking rosier at the beginning of the year, as sources told City A.M. that private equity giant Blackstone was considering listing warehouse business Logicor in a massive £11bn deal. But the float, which was due to take place in the first six months of the year, has not materialised.

Read more: London IPO market set for £30bn boost, with Logicor, O2, Misys, TI Fluid Systems, BGL Group and Kuwait Energy weighing up flotations

Avast has previously considered a stint on the public markets, as it filed to float on Nasdaq in late 2011, but cancelled the plans in 2012 due to tough market conditions.

When CVC bought a majority stake two years ago, from the founders and fellow private equity firm Summit Partners, the Prague-based business was valued at $1bn (£760m).

Recent cyber attacks, such as the WannaCry ransomware which hit the NHS in May, have helped to raise the desirability of security software companies such as Avast.

Read more: Home secretary: Almost all NHS systems hit in global ransomware attack have now recovered

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