By Jim Finkle
(Reuters) - Security software maker McAfee laid off about 250 workers, equivalent to 3 percent of its workforce, in a bid to focus on core businesses and improve efficiency in a market led by rival Symantec.
"In order to better prepare the company for growth in 2012 we have made the difficult decision to reduce a small percentage of our global workforce," McAfee spokesman Ian Bain told Reuters on Tuesday.
Intel Corp acquired McAfee, the world's second largest security software player, in February in a $7.7 billion deal meant to help the world's top chipmaker make its customers safer from hackers.
Bain said the job cuts were in areas that will not be part of McAfee's core focus next year. But he would not say what those areas are.
Expectations for software security companies have risen in the wake of high-profile attacks on Google Inc, Lockheed Martin Corp and Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.
Intel Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith told investors in October the integration of McAfee had gone well and that the new business had a strong third quarter.
McAfee is operated as a subsidiary of Intel and an Intel spokeswoman said the layoffs were planned by McAfee's management.
In October, Symantec CEO Enrique Salem told analysts on a conference call that disruption to McAfee's business following its acquisition by Intel was helping Symantec across various segments.
Symantec spokeswoman Nicole Kenyon told Reuters on Tuesday there have been no recent layoffs at Symantec and that none were immediately planned.
She declined to say whether Symantec was on track to meet its sales targets, saying the company does not comment on earnings projections in the middle of the quarter.
Also on Tuesday, McAfee named Senior Vice President Stuart McClure as its worldwide chief technology officer, replacing one of several executives who left after the company's sale to Intel.
McClure has been with McAfee since 2004, when it acquired Foundstone, a cyber security services company that he co-founded. He is a prominent expert on hacking and author of the book "Hacking Exposed: Network Security Secrets & Solutions."
He succeeds George Kurtz, who recently left McAfee to start his own company with help from private equity firm Warburg Pincus.
McClure earlier this year recruited an elite squad of hacking experts to work for McAfee on a team known as TRACE that he charged with figuring out ways to break into high-tech gear including heart pacemakers.
McAfee disclosed that Kurtz was leaving in October, when it also announced the departure of Vice President Dmitri Alperovitch, a highly regarded threat researcher whose work at the company help give it a reputation for conducting cutting-edge research on hacking.
(Additional reporting by Noel Randewich)
(Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Bob Burgdorfer)