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McAfee selling research arm to Sparta

Security software maker parts with research division, which provides data on IT threats, attacks and vulnerabilities.

Security software maker McAfee announced late Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to sell its research division to Sparta, a consultancy that specializes in IT systems defense services.

McAfee, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif., said it decided to sell the research unit based on the division's gradual shift away from studying information commonly available to the public and toward investigating issues that delve into classified data.

McAfee Research counts among its customers organizations such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Advanced Research and Development Activity of the national intelligence community, the National Security Agency and the Army Research Laboratories.

Executives at McAfee also said the sale, whose terms have not yet been released, would help the company further streamline its business and move the software maker closer to its target of a 25 percent pro forma operating margin by June 2005. The company said it will remain committed to conducting malicious-code and vulnerability research through its McAfee Anti-virus and Vulnerability Emergency Response Team (AVERT).

For its part, McAfee Research conducts computer and network security research focused on intrusion prevention, malicious-code defense, security policy and management, high-performance assurance and forensics and other IT-related threats. Upon closing the deal, McAfee said the research group will become a part of Sparta's information assurance business.

The companies said they expect the deal to be finalized in the next 90 days.