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Symantec reportedly eyes splitting into two

The company is allegedly pondering a separation, with one company devoted to security and another focused on storage, reports Bloomberg.

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Symantec

First eBay, then Hewlett-Packard. Will Symantec be the next major tech player to announce a split-up? That's the latest rumor in circulation, according to Bloomberg.

The security provider is in "advanced talks" to separate itself into two companies, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing information from "people with knowledge of the matter." The Mountain View, Calif.-based company would apparently break up, with one business selling security software and the other focusing on data storage.

An announcement of the breakup could be a few weeks away, one of the sources said.

A Symantec split certainly isn't unimaginable. eBay announced last week that it will spin off its PayPal business. HP revealed Monday that it will split itself in half with one company covering the enterprise market and the other made up of the PC and printing business.

With its Norton lineup of products, Symantec is one of the best-known security vendors. But the battle against viruses and other cyberthreats has become more difficult, as hackers have increasingly found more sophisticated methods of infiltration. The recent attacks against such major companies as Target, eBay, and Home Depot show that traditional security protection, even when implemented, isn't enough anymore.

In a May 4 story from the Wall Street Journal, Symantec senior vice president for information security Brian Dye declared antivirus "dead," saying that "we don't think of antivirus as a moneymaker in any way." Instead, the company has striven to offer a wider scope of security products to help businesses better thwart cyberattacks.

With its industry in flux, Symantec has also been in the midst of several changes.

The company has watched its revenue fall over the past few quarters, although cost cuts have helped pump up earnings, the Journal said. In August, Symantec announced that it would trim its Norton suite of products into one single security suite. And in an effort to shake up upper management, the company fired CEO Steve Bennett in March, the second time in two years that it let go of its chief executive.

Symantec has in the past explored the idea of a breakup, one of Bloomberg's sources said. Current CEO Michael Brown is reportedly in favor of a breakup, the source added. Splitting Symantec in half could even turn the two separate businesses into takeover targets, with such companies as HP and EMC possibly interested in either the security unit or the storage company, another source said.

Symantec declined Bloomberg's request for comment and told CNET that it does not comment on rumors or speculation.

Updated at 7:20 a.m. PT to include Symantec's response.