Rumor about sale prompts Network Associates CEO to speak out

SANTA CLARA, CA: Network Associates took the unprecedented step last week of commenting on a rumor that Microsoft was buying the security technology firm, which the company said is not true.

SANTA CLARA, CA: Network Associates took the unprecedented step last week of commenting on a rumor that Microsoft was buying the security technology firm, which the company said is not true.

Companies rarely, if ever, comment on rumors. But with CEO George Samenuk speaking at a conference Tuesday in front of potential investors, it seemed "disingenuous" not to quash a rumor that the computer-security company was for sale, explained Jennifer Keavney, VP of corporate communications.

"We sat down and talked about if it was the right thing to do," she explained. "We made the decision pretty quickly, as timing was critical. We were reactive to calls that came in, and we were proactive, reaching out to the wire services."

But the decision sets an unfortunate precedent, as people could assume rumors are true if the company won't comment on them in the future, explained Keavney.

"We'll tell them then what we've said now - that this is a very unique situation that required us to comment," she said. "We broke our own policy, and we won't do it again."

Samenuk appeared at the Wachovia Securities 14th annual Nantucket Conference.

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