Asian telecoms giant Singapore Telecommunications Limited (Singtel) has swooped on privately-held US security firm Trustwave in a deal reported to be worth $810 million (£540 million).

In a stroke the buy turns Singtel into a player in the security services market that Chicago-based Trustwave has been successful at cultivating, including through acquisitions of its own – 2012’s acquisition of Anglo-US security company M86 Security is the best recent example.

Image: Trustwave
Image: Trustwave

Security watchers might also recall that M86 Security itself bought Israeli startup Finjan in 2009. The latter’s technology is still the distant descendant of Trustwave’s current web security gateway.

Today Trustwave is well regarded for its SpiderLabs security research and consultancy, TrustKeeper cloud platform and various managed services. Singtel has been upfront that it is the services it is after.

“We aspire to be a global player in cyber security. We have established a strong security business in the region, both organically and through strategic partnerships with global technology leaders,” said Singtel CEO, Chua Sock Koong.

“Our extensive customer reach and strong suite of ICT services, together with Trustwave’s deep cyber security capabilities, will create a powerful combination and allow Singtel to capture global opportunities in the cyber security space.”

The company referenced Gartner estimates that the $14 billion 2014 security services market would grow to turn over $24 billion by 2018. Clearly, Singtel is an example of a telecoms firm that wants to add value to its services and move away from the business trap of becoming a mere commodity pipe.

The deal also marks an interesting shift towards the globalisation of security services  and the likelihood that some of the big players will be Asian and not US-based.

One unusual detail is that the buy will give Singtel a 98 percent stake in the firm with the remaining 2 percent being held by Trustwave CEO Robert J McCullen.

Trustwave will continue to operate as a business unit within Singtel, the firm said, which means the brand name will remain for now.  Its HQ will stay in Chicago.

The mid-tier of security firms seems to be a popular acquisition theme right now with Blue Coat recently acquired by Bain Capital in a $2.4 billion deal.

In 2013 Trustwave customers were on the receving end of an unusual phishing campaign which used a company PCI compliance security scan notficaiton to push sites with embedded exploits. In 2014, the firm was named in a suit by banks alleging that its software had failed to detect the attacks on retailer Target. This was later withdrawn.