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Symantec inherits MessageLabs' Aussie big fish

Symantec's acquisition of MessageLabs will give it some very large Australian customers, including QBE, Westpac Bank and Virgin Blue.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributor on

Symantec's US$695 million acquisition of MessageLabs will give it some very large Australian customers, including QBE, Westpac Bank and Virgin Blue.

(Credit: MessageLabs)

MessageLabs, which opened its regional headquarters for Asia Pacific in Sydney in August 2003, has made huge in-roads in the Australian market for hosted messaging security.

Over the past five years, the company has locked up massive deals across a variety of industries. Besides Westpac and Virgin Blue, Symantec is set to inherit NSW Health, Commonwealth Bank-owned Colonial First State, insurance giant QBE and engineering heavyweight Theiss.

Other notable clients include paper-recycling tycoon Richard Pratt's Visy, Transpacific Industries Group, ISS Facility Services Australia, and through a deal MessageLabs struck with the NSW Government last year, at least 172 councils and 380 libraries.

On the other hand, exactly how much revenue MessageLabs was generating from these large clients could be quite low. Last financial year, the company took just US$145 million in revenue globally, from a client base of 19,000.

Following the merger, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year, MessageLabs will be combined with Symantec's Protection Network to create Symantec Software-as-a-Service.

MessageLabs has had a relatively free reign over hosted messaging security since its arrival in Australia, however, several large entrants have since joined the market, most notably Google after it acquired Postini. Others that have crashed the hosted security market include Websense, which acquired SurfControl, giving it a footing in the market.

It is not known whether antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab will offer its hosted email security service in Australia, which it launched in Europe in January. CEO Eugene Kaspersky has planned a visit to Australia this month for the launch of its first Australian office where he plans to outline details of Kaspersky Lab's local operations.

Although the acquisition by Symantec has larger ramifications for the enterprise security, according to IBRS security analyst, James Turner. "This is the final sign that threat mitigation must be offloaded into the cloud," he told ZDNet.com.au.

Globally Symantec and MessageLabs made it clear some staff would go as part of the acquisition, however, locally Symantec did not directly answer a question from ZDNet.com.au today on whether redundancies would hit MessageLabs' local office.

"We anticipate the majority of the MessageLabs employees joining Symantec's SaaS group will continue in their current roles," said a local Symantec spokesperson. "It will be business as usual for MessageLabs and Symantec until the transaction closes."

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