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Symantec CEO On The Lookout For Companies To Acquire

By Jeanette Borzo Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES SAN FRANCISCO -(Dow Jones)- Symantec Corp. (SYMC) Chief Executive Enrique Salem told investors Monday that acquisitions remain a key component of his company's growth strategy, comments that reflect the wave of consolidation sweeping through the software industry. "We have a regular weekly meeting where we discuss the progress on acquisitions," said Salem, adding the company has $2.7 billion in cash as of July 2. "Acquisitions will also help us to drive execution." Already this year, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company has purchased PGP Corp., Guardian and EdgeVeriSign Inc.'s (VRSN) identity and authentication business. Salem's remarks come at a time of heightened merger-and-acquisition activity in the software industry, as low interest rates prompt cash-rich companies to find smart uses for their money. As if to buttress Salem's remarks, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) said earlier in the day that it would acquire data specialist Netezza Corp. (NZ) in a deal valued at $1.7 billion. Technology--and software, in particular--has seen heightened activity in recent months. Last week, Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) offered roughly $1.5 billion for network security company ArcSight Inc. (ARST), following its earlier acquisition of privately-held Fortify Software Inc. And in August, Intel Corp. (INTC) said it would buy Symantec's key rival, McAfee Inc. (MFE), for $7.7 billion. Scott Taylor, Symantec's chief legal officer, said during the meeting that Symantec is issuing a total of 75 million new shares for employee incentive and stock-purchase plans. Also during the meeting, Salem outlined a variety of priorities for fiscal 2011. Symantec will expand its security products beyond desktop PCs, he said, while offering more suites of products to corporate customers. The company also plans to innovate in the data-storage and backup sectors, while encouraging customers to adopt software delivered remotely as a service, rather than via boxed software that must be loaded locally on individual PCs. In July, Symantec's fiscal first-quarter profit surged on higher margins, but the security- and storage-software company's revenue was roughly flat from a year ago and missed expectations. Symantec shares are down more than 15% since the beginning of the year. On Monday, Symantec shares were up 0.7% to $15.08 in recent trading. -By Jeanette Borzo, Dow Jones Newswires; 415 765 8230; jeanette.borzo@dowjones.com

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