Google agreed to acquire cybersecurity company Mandiant Inc. for $5.4 billion, its second-biggest deal ever.

With Mandiant, Alphabet Inc.’s Google gets more tools to protect its cloud clients by responding quickly to online threats. The company is working to recruit and support cloud customers amid stiff competition from Microsoft Corp. and Inc.

Google to Buy Cybersecurity Firm Mandiant for $5.4 Billion
Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg Mercury

Google will purchase Mandiant for $23 a share in an all-cash deal, according to a statement on Tuesday. Following the close of the deal, Mandiant will be part of Google’s cloud business.

Microsoft was also interested in Mandiant, but pulled out of talks more than a week ago, said two people with knowledge of the deliberations who asked not to be identified because the situation is private. Microsoft ended its takeover discussions on concerns that Mandiant’s collection of security businesses wasn’t a good enough strategic fit, according to one of the people.

The cloud business could help Google diversify beyond advertising, which comprises the bulk of its revenue and profit. Under Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian, who took over in 2019, Google Cloud has sought myriad ways to expand, working to make the service more reliable and revamping its partnerships to engineer bespoke projects for more clients.

Google is snapping up Mandiant amid a flurry of dealmaking in cybersecurity, as global anxiety continues over the potential ripple effects in cyberspace from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mandiant has frequently detailed nation-state hacking activity including cyber-espionage from Russia and China, as part of its threat intelligence offerings.

“Organizations are facing cybersecurity challenges that have accelerated in frequency, severity and diversity, creating a global security imperative,” Kurian said in a blog post. “The cloud represents a new way to change the security paradigm by helping organizations address and protect themselves against entire classes of cyber threats, while also rapidly accelerating digital transformation.”

Google’s cloud division’s sales grew 47% in 2021, but competitors maintained stubborn leads. As of the fourth quarter of 2021, Google held 10% of the cloud provider market, while Amazon commanded 33% and Microsoft has captured 21%, according to data from Synergy Research Group.

Mandiant was founded almost two decades ago by Kevin Mandia, a former U.S. Air Force officer, and has gained a reputation for its incident response services. Its discussions with Google, first reported by the Information website, sent shares of Mandiant up 16% at the close of trading Monday.

But Mandiant slid 3.8% on Tuesday, signaling investors had been anticipating a bidding war. There have been several larger cybersecurity deals in recent months. The biggest was private equity giant Thoma Bravo LLC’s purchase of Proofpoint for $12.3 billion last year, followed by NortonLifeLock Inc.’s purchase of Avast Plc in a deal valued at as much as $8.6 billion.

Mandiant became a stand-alone company again last year when FireEye Inc. sold its security-product business for $1.2 billion to a consortium led by Symphony Technology Group. FireEye had acquired Mandiant in 2013.

The deal will dwarf every previous Google transaction — other than its 2012 acquisition of Motorola Mobility for about $12.5 billion. But, “Google has ample capacity for a growing M&A appetite,” Robert Schiffman, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, wrote in a note. The company is able to generate more free cash flow in just one month than the cost of Mandiant, he said.

For Google, the biggest challenge may still lie ahead — getting regulators to sign off on the deal during numerous antitrust investigations. It took more than 14 months before Google could close its $2.1 billion purchase of tech wearable company Fitbit, due to regulatory scrutiny, and Google may be in for more of the same with Mandiant. Meanwhile, rival Microsoft has been on an acquisition tear, snapping up Activision Blizzard, Nuance Communications and 14 other businesses in the last year, according to its website.

–By Nico Grant with assistance from Dina Bass and Michelle F. Davis (Bloomberg Mercury)

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