McAfee Buying ScanAlert for $51M

McAfee Inc., a leading maker of computer antivirus software, said Tuesday it is buying ScanAlert Inc. for $51 million, adding to its Internet security offerings a service intended to help consumers feel safer shopping online.

Santa Clara-based McAfee will pay $51 million in cash for Napa-based ScanAlert, which runs daily scans on its more than 75,000 customer Web sites hunting and fixing vulnerabilities to qualify for the company's Hacker Safe seal of approval.

The deal also includes an agreement by McAfee to pay up to $24 million more if certain financial targets are met. Those targets weren't specified in a news release announcing the acquisition.

The deal is expected to close in McAfee's first quarter.

McAfee said it plans to integrate ScanAlert's technology into its SiteAdvisor service, which alerts Web surfers about the safety of the sites they're visiting with a series of red, yellow and green lights. The service warns of sites that infect visitors computers' with malicious code, aggressively display pop-up ads and use submitted e-mail addresses to send spam.

McAfee said last week its third-quarter profit more than doubled to $62.9 million as its cash horde grew to $1.5 billion, according to preliminary results for the period ended in September. The results are preliminary because the company is still cleaning up an accounting mess involving mishandled stock option awards over 10 years and needs to restate its finances.

McAfee expects to absorb non-cash charges of $100 million to $150 million to properly account for the awards.

The options headache led to a management shake-up in October that included the departure of McAfee's Chief Executive George Samenuk and firing of its president, Kevin Weiss.

In February, McAfee Inc.'s former top lawyer, Kent Roberts, was charged in federal court with seven criminal counts of fraud alleging he manipulated the values of his stock options to increase the potential windfall and then falsified records to cover up his misconduct. The alleged offenses occurred in 2000 when McAfee was still known as Network Associates.

Roberts has pleaded not guilty.