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EMC, the world’s biggest maker of data storage equipment and software, on Thursday unveiled its latest acquisition when it agreed to pay $2.1bn in cash for RSA Security, a Boston-based internet security company.

The deal will allow EMC to be in a better position to serve companies looking for ways to minimise data loss and data breaches. RSA makes keychain authentication tokens that provide workers with secure access to their computers.

In a statement on Thursday, Joe Tucci, EMC chief executive, said: “Information security is a top priority among executives around the world, and it has become an inseparable attribute of information management.”

EMC is paying $28 per share in cash for RSA, or a 44.6 per cent premium over the company’s closing share price on Wednesday, before a New York Times report stoked rumours of a potential sale.

Shares in RSA surged to close 18.2 per cent higher on Thursday at $22.88, implying a market capitalisation of about $1.7bn. Shares in EMC, a serial acquirer, closed unchanged at $11.25, but fell more than 3 per cent in after-market trading on concerns about overpayment.

EMC’s latest deals include its $625m takeover of VMware, a software maker specialising in “virtualisation” of corporate computing environments, in early 2004.

Early this month it bought nLayers, a privately-held software planning company, for an undisclosed sum.

New US laws concerning the security of patient medical records and sensitive financial information have led companies to seek new ways to secure data stored on their IT networks, as well as on employees’ computers.

RSA earlier this month revealed that it was one of several dozen companies that had received a subpoena from the US attorney’s office related to stock options grants.

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