Posts profit, continues with divestments
VeriSign Inc has sold a part of its European mobile messaging division, based in Vienna, to an Austrian investment group, it has emerged today.
The operation is focused primarily on the development and delivery of interactive mobile applications.
The amount paid by Sinon Invest Holding has not been disclosed, but VeriSign bought the mobile messaging company in 2006 from 3united Mobile Solutions for more than $65 million.
The 100-strong unit will now trade as mobile messaging solutions (mms) GmbH and continue with its development of premium SMS, m-commerce payment systems and mobile content. CEO Otto Legerer will be joined by ex Verisign staffer Peter Kraus as CFO.
Verisign is working to spin-off some of its low-margin business units, so that it can concentrate its efforts on growing the internet domain naming arm and extend its SSL encryption security interests.
The current downturn has not helped with the execution of that strategy, and yesterday the company was knocked back in its approach to takeover Certicom after the encryption software specialist received a better offer from Blackberry maker RIM Ltd.
The new mms GmbH said it has all the Austrian mobile communications operators as customers, as well as some well-known media providers. It intends pressing on with expansion into new markets in Asia and Africa. It also has plans to develop mobile marketing services for small and mid-cap businesses.
Verisign has been reported as considering the divestment of as many as 12 low-growth business units and others it considers to be non-core to its future plans. Most recently it sold off the minority stake it had in mobile content retailer Jamba for $200 million to the News Corp media giant.
The Mountain View-based company has just reported its first profitable quarter in more than a year. It posted fourth quarter net income of $39 million, compared to a loss in the same period last year of $219 million.
CEO Jim Bidzos said the company had disposed of seven non-core businesses since late 2007, and intends to complete the sale of the remaining businesses despite the challenging environment.