Intel will buy McAfee for a staggering $7.6 billion

In what will no doubt be considered the acquisition of the year, Intel announced today that it plans to buy leading security company McAfee for $7.68 billion, an amazing 60% premium over the company’s current market value.

It is one of the largest acquisition deals in Intel’s 42-year history. Under the arrangement, it will pay $48 per share of McAfee stock, which closed Wednesday at just under $30.

The move comes as Internet security poses bigger risks than ever before. People are taking not only their computers online but also their cell phones, music players, iPads, GPS systems, TVs, Blu-ray devices, and game systems across networks as well. As expansion across these external gadgets increases, it is expected they will become more open platforms and thus vulnerable to attacks.

In a statement confirming the deal, Intel CEO Paul S. Otellini wrote, “With the rapid expansion of growth across a vast array of Internet-connected devices, more and more of the elements of our lives have moved online. In the past, energy-efficient performance and connectivity have defined computing requirements. Looking forward, security will join those as a third pillar of what people demand from all computing experiences.”

A technological powerhouse and the third largest chip maker in the world, Intel is known for not resting on its laurels and today’s announcement is one of the company’s biggest pushes ever to expand beyond its existing market. McAfee, regarded as a cash cow for its multi-million dollar contracts to business around the world, has seen year-to-year growth of 20%.