VeriSign buying wireless billing services vendor

As it continues to make inroads into endeavors beyond the Internet, VeriSign Inc. yesterday announced that it's acquiring H.O. Systems Inc., which provides billing and customer service to wireless carriers.

VeriSign will pay about US$340 million in stock and cash for Savannah, Ga.-based H.O. Systems under the deal, which is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2002.

Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign, which provides secure online trust services, will combine the H.O. Systems business into the Illuminet Holdings Inc. subsidiary it purchased last September. VeriSign purchased the Lacey, Wash.-based telecommunications services vendor to broaden its portfolio of businesses.

VeriSign spokeswoman Cheryl Regan said today that H.O. Systems will compliment the existing Illuminet business, which provides signaling, intelligent network and clearing services for telecommunications customers by adding billing and customer care services.

The acquisition of H.O. Systems brings the company's core product, speedSUITE, an end-to-end billing and customer relationship management package that can help wireless carriers better serve their customers.

"This continues the strategy that Illuminet had," she said. "Illuminet's strengths are in telecom, and their customers are 900 of the largest carriers in the world."

Because H.O Systems and Illuminet bring different services to the corporate mix, no layoffs are expected because of the acquisition, Regan said. "They are very complimentary services," she said. "They don't overlap."

Illuminet operates the largest independent Signaling System 7 network in North America, providing signaling, intelligent network and clearing services to more than 900 carrier customers in 23 countries, according to the company.

"As demand for wireless communications grows, so does the need for services that combine the wireless voice and data and billing functions," Terry Kremian, executive vice president and general manager of Illuminet, said in a statement. "The combination of Illuminet's services and trusted expertise with H.O. Systems' wireless billing and real-time provisioning systems creates a powerful offering for wireless carriers."

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