Sourcefire initial offering tops estimates at $15 a share

Further rise expected in trading today for Columbia network security firm

March 09, 2007|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN REPORTER

Underwriters priced shares of Sourcefire Inc. last night at $15 per share -- $1 more than its top estimate -- raising more than $70 million in an initial public offering and valuing the Columbia network security company at $346.7 million.

The price is good news for Sourcefire, said John E. Fitzgibbon Jr., founder of IPOScoop.com, an IPO information firm based in Jersey City, N.J.,

"The deal was oversubscribed, it was in demand and the institutions were willing to step up and pay a little extra to buy the stock," Fitzgibbon said last night.

The shares should see a pop today when they begin trading on the Nasdaq stock market, he said. Shares will trade under the ticker symbol FIRE.

Sourcefire sold 5.77 million shares -- 5.32 million new shares of common stock and 450,000 shares offered by stockholders. In documents filed last week, it had estimated the price range at between $12 and $14 a share.

Underwriters, led by Morgan Stanley, have an overallotment option to purchase an additional 865,500 shares.

Sourcefire made headlines in October 2005 when it announced plans to be acquired by Israeli-based Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. for $225 million. The acquisition raised national security issues and came under investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the same agency that investigated Dubai Ports World's unsuccessful bid to run some operations at six U.S. ports, including Baltimore's.

Check Point pulled out of the deal in March 2006, and in October Sourcefire filed its application for an IPO.

Started in the living room of founder and Chief Technology Officer Martin F. Roesch's Eldersburg home in 2001, Sourcefire has since grown to a company with industry-leading technology and offices around the world.

Snort, Sourcefire's open-source intrusion-prevention technology, analyzes network traffic to protect against hackers. Sourcefire also makes software to manage that data, as well as real-time network awareness technology, which maps out exactly what the network looks like.

Sourcefire's investors -- including a handful of venture capital firms and directors and executives of the company -- retained most of their shares, according to SEC filings. Roesch kept all of his 1.5 million shares, worth $22.6 million at the IPO price.

Top investor Sierra Ventures sold more than a quarter-million shares, reaping $3.8 million, and still has a 21 percent stake.

staceyhirsch@baltsun.com

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