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Symantec CEO aims to double sales to $10 bln by 2010

Symantec Corp., the world's largest maker of security software, aims to double yearly sales to $10 billion by 2010 as it seeks to remain independent in a period of „consolidation,” CEO John Thompson said. Symantec, the maker of Norton anti-virus software, wants to buy companies with cash flow „of some reasonable scale,” Thompson, said at the Etre technology conference in Barcelona on October 8. The company will „always be interested” in smaller companies with a „cool little piece of technology,” he said. „At $10 billion we would still maintain our position as being the fourth-largest independent software company in the world, or if we are lucky we can even move up the ladder a step or two,” Thompson said. That would get the company „to a point where we sustain ourselves through this consolidation period.” Symantec purchased storage-software maker Veritas Software Corp. last year for $10.2 billion to hedge against the slowing in the consumer market for security software. The Cupertino, California-based company is battling Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, which released security software for consumers in June. Sales at Symantec reached $4.1 billion in the 12 months ended March 31 and including Veritas revenue totaled to $5 billion. The company's shares have gained 19% this year, compared with the 4.3% advance in the Nasdaq Composite Index, valuing Symantec at $20.6 billion.

Symantec is an „acquisitive company” that has bought „25 to 30 companies” since he became CEO seven years ago, Thompson said in an interview. The company hasn't been approached to be taken over itself, Thompson said. He would consider such offer if it's „reasonable to the shareholders” and doesn't jeopardize the rights of the employees. „It's my obligation to deal with that,” he said. Symantec has expressed concern Microsoft will force clients of its new Vista operating system to use its security console, showing the status of functions such as firewalls and anti-virus protection. Thompson said he wants to compete with Microsoft as long as it doesn't use „unfair” tactics. „I'm excited to finally get their product in the marketplace,” Thompson said. „Put the product in the marketplace and let the market decide.” Microsoft plans to start selling Vista in November to corporations and in January to consumers. „If Microsoft has a proposal how they want to maintain a level playing field I'm all ears,” he said in the interview. Microsoft started selling its Windows OneCare Live in June and will offer its own security software to be included in Vista, the next-generation Windows. With OneCare, Microsoft is angling for a piece of the $4.02 billion market for anti-virus software. Sales of such software increased 14% last year, according to market researcher Gartner Inc. (Bloomberg)