Looks like Intel is on what has the makings of a good old-fashioned shopping spree. The company's blockbuster announcement Thursday morning that it plans to buy security company McAfee for $7.68 billion comes on the heels of its buyout of Texas Instruments' cable modem chip division earlier this week, and amidst rumours that it will pluck Infineon Technologies AG's wireless chip unit.
Intel in recent years hasn't been an especially acquisitive company, though last summer did announce the $884 million buyout of Wind River in a deal that was part of Intel's effort to expand into the mobile and embedded systems markets as well as the purchase of RapidMind, a software maker whose technology was expected to help exploit Intel's multicore processors.
Intel isn't alone this year in picking up the acquisition pace, either. PriceWaterhouseCoopers just released an update on a busy Q2 of M&A activity in the tech market and pointed to hefty cash accumulations by major tech companies as setting the scene for even more big deals. Significant second quarter deals included SAP announcing plans to buy Sybase for $5.8 billion, HP announcing a buyout of Palm for $1.2 billion, plus a couple of security-related deals involving Visa and CyberSource and Symantec and Verisign's identity and authentication business. Apple, Google and IBM were active on the M&A front as well. Intel CFO Stacy Smith told Bloomberg during the spring that Intel is on the prowl for companies that can help it extend its reach into smartphones and consumer electronics.
Intel's busiest M&A period was between 1997 and 2002, when it snapped up about 40 companies, including Shiva, a maker of VPN products, and Chips and Technologies, which got the FTC's attention during one of its antitrust investigations into Intel's business practices. In years following that period, Intel did lots of divestitures, shedding the pieces that didn't fit.Other Intel deals involving network companies over the years have included:
- Mobilian, a chipmaker for wireless LANs and Bluetooth connectivity, in 2003
- Xircom, a PC modem and network card maker, acquired in 2001 for $748 million
- Voice Technologies, a maker of PBX connectivity technology, in 2000
- XLNT, a Gigabit Ethernet switch maker, in 1999
- iPivot, for $500 million in 1999, for its traffic management technology
- Dialogic, a computer telephony technology company, for $780 million, in 1999
Through Intel Capital, Intel also has invested billions of dollars in dozens of young companies. Earlier this year, Intel was among those putting $40 million into Virtustream, a data centre colocation and services company.