Kaspersky Lab CEO backs out of IPO plans

Founder buys back 20 percent stake

Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky has cancelled plans for the firm to go public, announcing his intention to buy back a 20 percent stake sold to a private equity investor a year ago.

In comments that emerged from the company's Cancun analyst conference, Kaspersky's CEO said the reason for the about turn had to do with his reservations about how an IPO might affect the company's unusual culture.

"It is flexible. It is very, very innovative. I like it. I don't want to change," the famously laid-back Kaspersky was reported by Reuters to have said. "You don't have to report to anybody else but yourself."

The news comes only a year after private equity General Atlantic had paid north of a rumoured $200 million in exchange for a 20 percent stake in Kaspersky Lab, which valued the company at the $1 billion mark.

The Kaspersky IPO has been one of those on-off possibilities since the idea first emerged in 2009.

Eugene Kaspersky is said to still own more than half the company he founded in Russia in 1997. Since then it has grown into a mid-size engineering-led outfit capable of taking on the giants of the security software market Symantec, McAfee (owned by Intel) and Trend Micro.

A rival mid-sized security company Sophos went down a similar on-off IPO route to Kaspersky Lab before eventually selling a large stake in itself to UK equity house Apax Partners in 2010. This now looks like a sort of private halfway house that stops short of a full IPO that might eventually happen as and when the investor decides it is worth it.

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