Verio to buy TABNet

Continuing its plan to buy smaller Internet service providers, the nationwide ISP purchases the Web design and hosting company for at least $45.5 million.

Continuing its plan to buy smaller Internet service providers, nationwide ISP Verio today purchased TABNet, a Web design and hosting company catering to businesses, for at least $45.5 million.

The price tag could go up to $88.7 million if TABNet reaches certain revenue goals between now and December.

The deal allows Verio to leverage existing TABNet advertising and revenue-sharing agreements it has with Netscape and several other top Internet search engines and directory services. The acquisition also creates new distribution opportunities for Verio to market its e-commerce services to businesses on the Net.

"This is a strategic acquisition for Verio that substantially increases our marketing power for reaching small- and medium-sized business customers while further expanding our enhanced services offerings," Verio CEO Justin Jaschke said in a statement.

In the face of stiff competition, Verio's strategy includes providing national connectivity and support with customized, local services. By adding TABNet, Verio increases its stable of .com, .org, and .net domain names from 55,000 to more than 125,000. It also picks up about 300 TABNet resellers as part of the deal.

Verio shares closed at 27.25 today, up less than 1 percent from yesterday's close of 27.1250. The company's stock has traded as high as $30 a share and as low as $16.50 during the past 52 weeks.