VeriSign Buys Certicom Out from Under RIM

In late 2008, BlackBerry maker RIM was all set to take over Canadian security software firm Certicom…but right at the end of the year things suddenly got strange with Certicom claiming RIM’s bid to take over the company was too low. Now, VeriSign has swooped in and inked its own takeover deal for Certicom, in a transaction valued at about $73 million…or, really, about $40 million once Certicom’s cash-on-hand and short-term marketable securities transfer over to VeriSign.

VeriSign’s takeover of Certicom comes after RIM withdrew its takeover offer on Tuesday after an Ontario court granted Certicom’s request for an injunction on the deal. RIM offered CDN $1.50 per share for Certicom (about $1.22 USD); VeriSign is paying CDN $2.10 (about $1.67 USD) per share for the company.

VeriSign’s primary interest in Certicom is Elliptic Curve Cryptography (EEC) technology, a form of public key encryption that uses mathematics that, in theory, enable higher levels of security with shorter key lengths.

“This transaction combines the strengths of both companies in a unique, strategic fit,” said VeriSign executive chairman and interim CEO Jim Bidzos, in a statement. Certicom’s leadership in Elliptic Curve Cryptography technology allows VeriSign to develop adjacent market opportunities closely aligned with our core SSL business. We expect our customers and the market will benefit from the combination of Certicom’s high quality encryption technology and VeriSign’s proven certificate services infrastructure.”

Licensees of Cericiom’s EEC technology include RIM, Motorola, and General Dynamics.