Who’s Going To Buy Verisign’s Share of Jamba? And Will News Corp Sell Its Share?


Not necessarily a secret, but Verisign is divesting of its “non-core” businesses, and has done some of them, but is now hitting road bumps in selling off some of the bigger units, as it admitted in its Q208 results call Wednesday. “As market conditions have worsened, buyers are taking more conservative postures, making it difficult to bring deals to closure, and it has become apparent that the approaches to deals we believe would work at the beginning of the sales process will not work today.”

How this matters to us is that it owns 49 percent of mobile content player Jamba, which is now focused primarily on Europe…the other 51 percent is owned by News Corp (NYSE: NWS). AND, among the units it has put on sale is its “Content and Messaging Services” unit, under which Jamba falls. Here’s what it said on Wednesday’s call: “Messaging is the third of the three large businesses we are divesting. We began marketing efforts in late May with feedback in early July, showing interest in both parts and the whole of the messaging business. Based on the sales process and the accounting standards, we intend to place messaging into discontinued operations in the third quarter.”

Any guesses as to who will buy the 49 percent share? The logical choice is that News Corp buys the rest of it, but maybe the two together cold sell of Jamba as a whole to some other third-party. Whatever it is, it won’t fetch anywhere near the $270 million Verisign paid for it in 2004, or may not even be near $188 million News Corp paid in 2006 for its 51 percent share.

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