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Tech 'unicorn' Sophos launches £1bn IPO

The security firm plans to use the funds to boost company flexibility and reduce debt.

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Sophos has joined the ranks of UK tech giants with an IPO launch which values the firm at £1.01 billion.

The Oxford-based security company has raised $125m (£79.3m) after beginning trade on the London Stock Exchange at 225p per share last week.

Sophos has been branded a tech "unicorn" in the United Kingdom, otherwise known as a startup which has reached the $1bn valuation mark. Well-known for its security blog Naked Security, Sophos offers services including email and web security, encryption and mobile security solutions.

Sophos' 100,000 customers include Pixar, Xerox, Ford, Avis and Toshiba.

The company, founded over 30 years ago, has long wanted to tread the IPO route. However, the credit crunch in 2007 stopped these plans in its tracks, and in 2009, Sophos elected to sell a majority stake to Apax, valuing the firm at $830 million, instead of launching an IPO.

The IPO comes at a time where cybercrime has become a persistent threat to businesses worldwide. The rate of cybercrime is increasing and now it is a matter of when, not if, an attack takes place -- and so security solutions and investment is a critical issue for firms looking to protect their networks and data.

A recent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of Arbor Networks suggested that it takes an average of 98 days for financial services companies to detect intrusion on their networks and 197 days in retail. This gives threat actors all the time they need to conduct surveillance, steal data and spy upon victims.

See also: Most companies take over six months to detect data breaches

In a statement, Sophos CEO Kris Hagerman called the initial public offering a "significant milestone," commenting:

"We are proud to be part of Britain's growing tech economy as a listed business and a leading global provider in the cyber security sector. Working with our 15,000 channel partners worldwide, we look forward to the next stage of our development as a public company -- and to continuing to deliver 'complete IT security made simple' for enterprises of any size."

The funds will be used to reduce overall debt levels and improve the firm's financial flexibility.

Currently, Sophos stock on the LSE is set at 237.75p, with a high of 238.50p.

In related news, a flawed Sophos Web Appliance update rolled out to businesses, update version 4.0.2.3, knocked scores of PC fleets offline including a global firm's Australian call center. The update revoked support for SSL 3.0 in Citrix Receiver, catching users off-guard and blocking access to applications required to fix the outage.

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