Corporation Service Company has acquired Melbourne IT’s flagship digital brand management service for a ridiculously expensive AUD 152.5 million ($157m).
The shock news takes Melbourne out of the high-margin defensive registration and brand monitoring market, leaving it as a basic domain registrar focused on small businesses.
For CSC, the deal leaves it with a considerably strengthened hand in the DBS space, which is poised to benefit from the massive influx of new gTLDs over the next few years.
It also means that all of the over 100 new gTLD applications Melbourne was supporting as a consultant will now be managed by CSC.
The price of AUD 152.5 million is far more than Melbourne IT could have hoped to ask for, equal to almost its entire market capitalization of AUD 160 million.
Melbourne has had a rocky time on the markets of late, and had previously disclosed that it was looking to sell off some units in order to appease shareholders and rationalize its business.
But DBS was considered a core business, bigger now than Melbourne’s regular domains business, and likely not for sale. CSC’s high-premium offer was too good, it seems, to be responsibly refused.
“While this was not a business that we had specifically earmarked for sale, given the value creation provided by the transaction, this was an opportunity which could not be ignored,” CEO Theo Hnarakis, said in a statement.
The deal follows the sale of MarkMonitor, a key Melbourne competitor, to Thomson Reuters last July. When it comes to brand protection in the domain name space, it’s a big boy’s game nowadays.
Melbourne will remain a domain registrar with over four million names under management.
The DBS business was formed in 2008, largely as a result of Melbourne’s purchase of Verisign’s brand services division for $50 million.