(Bloomberg) -- Imperva Inc., the cybersecurity company targeted by activist investor Elliott Management Corp., hired Qatalyst Partners to explore a sale after receiving unsolicited takeover interest, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Several potential strategic buyers expressed interest in Imperva, prompting the company to interview banks and authorize a sale process, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Imperva ultimately hired Qatalyst, the people said, a boutique advisory firm that specializes in technology deals.

Last month, Elliott disclosed in a 13D filing that it had amassed 9.8 percent of Redwood Shores, California-based Imperva and started a dialogue with the company’s board about “strategic and operational opportunities.” As of June 28, Elliott had increased its stake to 10.9 percent, according to a regulatory filing.

Representatives for Qatalyst and Imperva declined to comment. Reuters previously reported that the company was interviewing banks to help it explore strategic options.

Preliminary Earnings

On Monday, Imperva lowered its revenue estimate for the second quarter and projected a wider adjusted loss for the period, citing extended sales cycles and larger deals. The company’s shares dropped almost 10 percent in after-hours trading Monday, after gaining 7.6 percent in New York.

On a conference call with investors to discuss the preliminary earnings, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Bettencourt declined to comment on “market rumors and speculation” when asked about reports it was talking to bankers.

Imperva had a market value of about $1.6 billion at the close. The shares dropped almost 30 percent in the 12 months through July 11.

Elliott said in the June filing it believes Imperva “operates in a highly strategic area of the technology industry with an attractive competitive position and a compelling product set in both the web application firewall and database activity monitoring markets.” The company’s strengths aren’t reflected in its current market value, the hedge fund wrote at the time.

Cybersecurity companies have been consolidating. In June, Cisco Systems Inc. said it was buying closely held CloudLock Inc. and Symantec Corp. announced it would acquire Blue Coat Systems Inc. Last year, Raytheon Co. combined its cyber products unit with Websense Inc.

Qatalyst represented LinkedIn Corp. on its $26 billion sale to Microsoft and QLogic Corp. when it agreed to sell to Cavium Inc. for $1.4 billion last month.

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