Catalyst, RIT exit MessageLabs in £397m sale

Catalyst Investors and RIT Capital Partners have exited their 19 percent stake in the UK online security group following its sale to Symantec.

Private equity firms Catalyst Investors and RIT Capital Partners have exited their investment in MessageLabs following its acquisition by Symantec, the world’s biggest IT security group, for £397 million.

Symantec used cash to purchase the UK-based MessageLabs, an anti-spam software maker which reported  revenue of $145 million for the fiscal year ending 31 July, a 20 percent increase from the prior year. Both UK-based RIT Capital and Catalyst Investors, which is headquartered in New York, divided a 19 percent share in the company.

Catalyst and Madison Dearborn Partners invested $42 million in MessageLab's parent company Star Technology in 2001. Catalyst bought out Madison's shares last year.

Catalyst plans to raise $300 million to $400 million for its third fund which is scheduled to be launched in 2009. In contrast to its previous strategy, the firm plans to invest in public companies that have attractive valuations.

RIT Capital recently became one of several limited partners in the maiden $381 million fund by UK mid-market firm Darwin Private Equity.