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VeriSign buys SSL certs rival for $125m

Net giant consolidates grip on digital certificates

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VeriSign has announced plans to acquire GeoTrust, its largest SSL certificate rival, for approximately $125m in cash. The deal, announced on Wednesday, is expected to close in the second half of this year, subject to regulatory approval.

Acquiring GeoTrust, in addition to the 1999 acquisition of Thawte Consulting, would leave VeriSign with only one significant rival (the much smaller firm Comodo) in the market to supply digital credentials that secure web transactions.

In a statement, VeriSign said its definitive agreement to buy GeoTrust would compliment its direct-sales SSL presence with a well developed reseller channel of more than 900 resellers (many of which are web hosting companies) in 140 countries.

"The successful channel business GeoTrust has built will benefit from our infrastructure and additional products. We look forward to leveraging the GeoTrust channel, technology and brand to expand on our existing SSL offerings," VeriSign Security Services executive vice president and general manager Judy Lin said.

GeoTrust's QuickSSL digital certificates enable merchants to obtain online credentials in minutes, as opposed to the two days or more VeriSign takes, using an automated system to reduce costs. The concept helped GeoTrust grow faster than its rivals over recent years, while still remaining some way behind VeriSign in market share.

According to Netcraft's SSL certificate study, VeriSign certificates secure approximately 45 per cent of the SSL-enabled websites, while GeoTrust certificates are found on 27 per cent. GeoTrust also has a partnership with Adobe involving the use of digital certificates to secure and authenticate PDF documents. ®

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