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Symantec Gobbles Up VeriSign's Checkmark Unit

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Symantec's acquisition frenzy veered in a slightly different direction this week with the acquisition of VeriSign's hallmark authentication services unit for $1.28 billion in cash.

The service, which provides the security technology to authenticate online payments, instantly gives Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) increased cachet in the enterprise security and e-commerce landscape and allows VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN) to liquidate a key asset and simultaneously galvanize its strategic focus on maintaining millions of registered Internet domain names.

VeriSign's ubiquitious security certification services and checkmark logo have long been considered the gold standard for securing online transactions between online banking accounts and verified e-tailers.

In addition to acquiring VeriSign's domestic authentication services business, Symantec will also receive an ownership stake in VeriSign Japan as well as other brands and trademarks under the VeriSign brand. Most of the unit's employees will be folded into Symantec's security unit, company officials said.

The deal, once it's approved by regulatory agencies, is expected to close in the next 60 to 90 days.

VeriSign has sold off a number of key components in its expansive portfolio in recent years, including the sale of its communications services unit to TNS (NYSE: TNS) for $320 million in March, 2009 and its mobile unit, m-Qube, for $9 million to Mobile Messenger.

"This transaction allows VeriSign to focus on the growing Internet infrastructure services business, where we expect to build on our expertise and record of success as the longtime operator of the .com and .net domain infrastructures," said VeriSign CEO Mark McLaughlin in a statement announcing the deal.

"We believe Symantec's leading position as the premier end-to-end security provider will enable them to better serve our authentication customers and accelerate market growth," he added.

Symantec hasn't shied away from making big moves in the past few months, acquiring both PGP and GuardianEdge, a pair of on-demand, cloud-based security software and storage firms for a total of $370 million.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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