Even if its $17 million takeover deal for U.K competitor Virtual Internet plc. does not get shareholder approval, New York-based Register.com would assume total control of the .PRO registry, the 50-50 joint venture between he two companies.
The cash transaction, which is awaiting 90 percent approval from Virtual Internet’s shareholders, would allow Register.com to handle the day-to-day management of the RegistryPro, the partnership created to handle the new .PRO domain. At the time the deal was announced, the $17 million price tag represented a 36 percent premium over Virtual Internet’s share price.
The .PRO suffix, which lets lawyers, doctors, accountants and other professionals distinguishes themselves from non-accredited service providers on the Web, is expected to go live in the summer.
Tom Turcan, chief executive of Virtual Internet, told atNewYork his company would maintain its 50/50 stake in the registry even if the takeover goes through. “We’re fully in there as a 50% shareholder but we’re very keep on using the Register.com brand. Register.com’s name is a very valuable asset and that’s a brand we will be trading under as much as possible,” Turcan said.
Officials at Register.com declined comment on specifics of the deal, citing U.K regulatory rules which gives shareholders 21 days from the time of the deal’s announcement to either approve or reject the takeover.
Turcan remained confident the deal would go through. “At the time of the offer,
Register.com already had more than 50 percent approval so I’d say they’re well on the way to getting to 90 percent.”
If the deal is consummated, Virtual Internet’s management team would be retained to run the European side of the operations with founder Jason Drummond staying on as a non-executive director.
Despite being unprofitable, Virtual Internet has a solid customer base throughout Europe and Register.com hopes revenues from across the Atlantic would narrow the gap with the number one registrar Verisign.
In its most recent financial results, Virtual Internet posted a pre-tax loss of $7.2 million.