Blue Coat chief Greg Clark will take the helm of the combined corporation and join its board after the deal closes in the third quarter, both companies said in a statement.
Mr Clark will become Symantec’s fourth chief executive in as many years, fulfilling its search for a leader with experience running a cybersecurity company and providing what investors hope will be much-needed stability.
He replaces Michael Brown, who had overseen the January sale of Symantec’s Veritas data-storage division for $7.4bn to the Carlyle Group.
The Mountain View, California-based company is in the midst of a major transition as it tries to recapture its momentum in the fast-growing cybersecurity market.
The world’s largest developer of security software - which reduced its sales and earnings forecasts in April - is trying to reinvent itself for an industry that’s now vastly different from the anti-virus software arena it helped pioneer.
“With this transaction, we will have the scale, portfolio and resources necessary to usher in a new era of innovation designed to help protect large customers and individual consumers against insider threats and sophisticated cybercriminals,” said Symantec’s chairman Dan Schulman.
Mr Clark will assume leadership of a company that’s fallen behind Palo Alto Networks, FireEye, and other rivals in developing technologies to detect more advanced threats.
Blue Coat brings a suite of products that can make Symantec more competitive in areas such as protecting customers’ data in the cloud, performing digital forensics in the hunt for hackers, and managing encrypted network traffic.
Symantec is understood to have had been in advanced talks to acquire FireEye earlier this year. But discussions broke down over Symantec’s concerns about FireEye’s future growth potential, sources said.
Like Symantec, FireEye is struggling with competition and had also recently cut revenue forecasts.