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Network Associates CEO denies sale rumours

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George Samenuk, chairman and chief executive officer of Network Associates, has sent an email to all staff reassuring them that rumours of an imminent takeover by Microsoft are simply not true. Network Associates makes McAfee anti-virus and security products.

The story on CRN.com on Monday said simply: "Network Associates is for sale, and Microsoft is rumored to be the buyer." It predicts official confirmation by 1 July. It quotes anonymous Wall Street sources and channel partners. Both suggested Microsoft was the most likely candidate to buy the company. One channel partner pointed to Network Associates recent sale of non-core businesses like its PGP product and its Sniffer line as evidence of a company preparing itself for sale.

Microsoft, long pilloried for its weak security, stuck to its policy of not discussing rumours and refused to comment.

The email from Samenuk says: "Many of you have seen the article in Computer Reseller News (CRN) which says that Network Associates is being acquired by Microsoft. There is no truth to this rumor...Sometimes, stories like this one take on a life of their own. You may hear slants, spins and variations, but the bottom line is the same, it's just not true."

However Samenuk does like one part of the story. He points to a reference buried in the ninth paragraph to Network Associates' "extensive intellectual property".

He cheekily suggests if staff are asked about the story by customers they should "tell them the acquisition part is totally wrong, but the part about our extensive intellectual property assets was right. Then ask if they have heard about our great new intrusion prevention products."

Network Associates is under pressure from investors to improve operating margin to 25 per cent by the middle of next year. This has led to rumours that it is planning big layoffs on 1 July.

And a big thank you to the reader who kindly forwarded us George's email. ®

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