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VeriSign files to launch IPO

The major issuer of digital certificates for the Internet has filed to raise $40 million in an initial public offering of its stock.

VeriSign, the major issuer of digital certificates for the Internet, has filed to raise $40 million in an initial public offering of its stock.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday, VeriSign did not indicate the number of shares or target price range for the stock. But based on the registration fee calculation, the company said it hopes to raise $40 million.

VeriSign has vouched for the identities of more than 1.5 million individuals and 35,000-plus Web sites through its issuance of digital certificates on the Internet, a process similar to how a driver's license is used to verify a person's identity. The certificates are used for secure email, credit card purchases, and other financial transactions, and also for access to sensitive information or subscription-only services.

For the nine months ending September 30, the company posted revenues of $6.1 million and a net loss of $12.7 million. Sales from VeriSign Japan, a majority-owned subsidiary, and other international sales accounted for about 15 percent of revenues. Most of the revenue came from the sale of server IDs.

VeriSign last year generated $1.3 million in revenue and had an operating loss of $10.2 million. The company intends to use about $5 million of the net proceeds from its IPO for capital expenditures next year, with the remainder being used for general corporate purposes.

The filing indicates that VeriSign has raised $38.6 million in prior financings.

Major shareholders of the company include Security Dynamics (SDTI), the parent of encryption firm RSA Data Security, which owns 28.4 percent of shares before the offering, as well as venture firms Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, with 7.9 percent ownership; Bessemer Venture Partners, with 7.8 percent; Visa International, with 6 percent; and Intel, also with 6 percent.

Other shareholders include Cisco, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard.

VeriSign has applied to sell its shares under the symbol VRSN.

Underwriters for the offering are Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Hambrecht & Quist, and Wessels, Arnold & Henderson.