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Imperva Seen as Takeover Candidate Under New CEO

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of IT security company Imperva (IMPV) are climbing after the company announced that it had chosen tech veteran Anthony Bettencourt as its new CEO. A number of analysts applauded the move, including research firm Sterne Agee, which noted Bettencourt "has a history of selling companies."

WHAT'S NEW: Imperva last night announced that Bettencourt would become its CEO, effective immediately. Bettencourt was previously CEO of Coverity, which developed software testing products. Coverity was acquired by Synopsys (SNPS) earlier this year, Imperva noted. Bettencourt was also CEO of enterprise search company Verity, which was acquired in 2005 by Autonomy in 2005. Imperva's former CEO, founder Shlomo Kramer, will become the company's Chief Strategy Officer and continue to be its chairman.

ANALYST REACTION: Noting that Bettencourt has a history of selling companies, Sterne Agee analyst Robert Breza called Imperva a likely acquisition candidate for a number of larger tech companies. Among the companies that could be interested in buying Imperva are Cisco (CSCO) , Juniper (JNPR) , HP (HPQ) , IBM (IBM) , Check Point (CHKP) , and F5 (FFIV) , the analyst believes. Imperva could be acquired for up to $45 per share, according to Breza.Moreover, Bettencourt's status as a tech veteran "with a proven sales and marketing background" should help him to drive continued growth at Imperva, according to the analyst, who kept a Buy rating on the stock. Oppenheimer analyst Shaul Eyal agreed that the move is positive for Imperva, as he wrote that Bettencourt's background dovetails well with the company's intermediate and longer term strategy. The new CEO has a 25 year track record of building and selling fast growing tech companies, according to the analyst, who nonetheless kept a Perform rating on Imperva.

PRICE ACTION: In late morning trading, Imperva rose 7% to $29.50.

Reporting done by Larry Ramer.

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