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Private equity firm Apax Partners is buying a 70 percent stake in security firm Sophos for more than $400 million plus debt assumption. The deal values Sophos at $830 million.

Boston-based Sophos is No. 3 in the security and data protection suite software business, behind only Symantec and McAfee. Sophos reported 19 percent annual revenue growth in the past three years and it reported $260 million in revenues in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010. The company has more than 100 million users in 150 countries.

Jan Hruska and Peter Lammer, founders of Sophos, will retain “significant stakes” in the 20-year-old business. The deal shows the security sector is hot. Just last week, Symantec agreed to buy PGP and GuardianEdge Technologies for $370 million. TA Associates, a minority shareholder in Sophos since 2002, is selling its whole stake to Apax. Apax has focused on the tech and telecom sectors and has investments in collaboration software firm Smart Technologies, telecom firm TDC A/S, telecom firm Weather Investments, as well as satellite firms Inmarsat and Intelsat.

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