-Contact Thomas Rasmussen
After accounting for a dime of every dollar spent on M&A in 2008, divestitures appear likely to be a thriving business again in 2009. They accounted for 11% of the total M&A spending last year, up from 7% in 2007. And respondents to our annual Corpdev Outlook Survey said they were twice as likely to expect the pace of divestitures to increase than decrease this year. This is especially true for larger companies, some of which have overindulged on M&A throughout the years.
In the world of tech divestitures, there is no better example of this than VeriSign. The naming and encryption giant has been working toward selling off billions of dollars worth of properties that ousted CEO Stratton Sclavos picked up during his multiyear shopping spree. The company announced its first divestiture of 2009 last week, the sale of its European messaging division 3united mobile Solutions. That move follows the sale of its remaining stake in Jamba in October 2008 and the divestiture of its inCode communications and post-pay billing divisions in November and December, respectively.
For those of you keeping score, VeriSign has now completed seven deals, with five still to go. But as is becoming grudgingly apparent to the company and many others in the same position, this is easier said than done. The current economic environment is not exactly ideal for divestitures or spinoffs. And shedding the remaining parts, especially its bloated communications and messaging divisions, has proven to be quite a challenge for the company since they most likely command a much higher price tag, likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars. VeriSign says there are strategic buyers, but the closed credit market and general economic anxiety are severely hampering potential deals.
A chronicle of VeriSign’s seven divestitures
Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase