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VeriSign Buy Brings Multimedia Messaging

Improving its offerings for wireless service providers, VeriSign announced today that it will buy LightSurf for $270 million in stock.

The Mountain View, Calif., infrastructure services firm will integrate LightSurf's technology, which lets users exchange pictures, video and other multimedia content, into its Intelligent Communications, Commerce and Content (IC3) platform.

"[The combination] will provide a compelling platform to help carrier customers drive new revenue streams," VeriSign CEO Stratton Sclavos said in a conference call with reporters and analysts.

North American firms like Sprint, Kodak and Qwest use LightSurf's offering to roll out new services.

LightSurf, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., also has relationships with handset makers including Samsung Electronics, Motorola, Sanyo, LG International and Toshiba.

The deal is expected to close during the first quarter, pending regulatory approval.

For LightSurf, teaming with VeriSign gives it international reach, as well as a company with sales and marketing clout, Philippe Kahn, chairman of LightSurf, said on the call.

Kahn said the acquisition was facilitated by the privately held firm's investment bankers. LightSurf was readying for an initial public offering when Goldman Sachs representatives introduced the executive team to VeriSign.

LightSurf has about 250 employees evenly divided between its headquarters and a Bangalore, India, office. The workers are expected to join VeriSign.

VeriSign's acquisition is similar to its purchase of Jamba, which was completed about six months ago. VeriSign paid approximately $273 million in cash and stock for the Berlin-based wireless content specialist. Jamba's product also was folded into VeriSign's IC3 offering.