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CentralNic and KeyDrive in merger talks

Kevin Murphy, March 14, 2018, Domain Registries

CentralNic and KeyDrive, two major European domain firms, are in merger talks, CentralNic confirmed this morning.

CentralNic said that the transaction, should it close, would be a “reverse takeover” of itself by KeyDrive.

That’s where a private company, in this case KeyDrive, reverses into a public one, in this case AIM-listed CentralNic.

Luxembourg-based KeyDrive is the holding company for brands including the registrars Key-Systems, Moniker and BrandShelter and the registries OpenRegistry and KSRegistry.

London-based CentralNic is a registry provider for the likes of .xyz, recent acquirer of Slovakian TLD .sk, and owner of registrars Internet.bs and Instra.

CentralNic said: “CentralNic and KeyDrive Group believe that the combination of the two businesses would have strong strategic logic and economies of scale, and would represent an opportunity to create a group with advanced technology platforms delivering significant recurring revenues for every major customer type within the industry.”

If a deal should be struck, it would happen in the second quarter, the company said.

The announcement was made today after news of the talks leaked.

Trading in CentralNic shares has been temporarily suspended.

NCC buys Open Registry for up to $22.6m — a gTLD registry now owns part of the TMCH

Kevin Murphy, January 20, 2015, Domain Registries

NCC Group has acquired registry back-end provider Open Registry in a deal that could be worth as much as £14.9 million ($22.6 million).

The deal means that NCC, which runs the new gTLD .trust via subsidiary Artemis Internet, now owns a back-end, a registrar and a piece of the Trademark Clearinghouse, in addition to its original core domain business of providing data escrow services to registries.

According to NCC, the acquisition is for a minimum of £7.9 million ($12 million), with the rest to be paid over three years if Open Registry meets performance targets.

Open Registry had revenue of €3.7 million ($4.3 million) in 2014, turning a profit of €15,000 ($17,300).

Its core business is as a back-end provider for new gTLD applicants. It has about 20 on its books, mostly European dot-brands and cities.

Part of the company’s business is CHIP, the Clearinghouse of Intellectual Property, which along with IBM and Deloitte runs the ICANN-sanctioned TMCH, which all new gTLD registries must use in their Sunrise and Trademark Claims launch periods.

It also owns a small registrar, Nexperteam, which has about 8,000 domains under management.

The Benelux company employs eight people.

Open Registry’s founding CEO Jean-Christophe Vignes joined Artemis as head of domain operations in 2013.

Vignes joins Artemis

Kevin Murphy, September 24, 2013, Domain Registries

Former OpenRegistry CEO Jean-Christophe Vignes has joined new gTLD applicant Artemis as director of domain operations, according to Artemis.

Artemis, which is one of the hopeful applicants for .secure, said “he will be in charge of building our Registry and Registrar capabilities for .secure”.

Vignes, a lawyer by trade, helped found registry service provider OpenRegistry a few years ago but left in July 2012 to go into private practice in Paris. He formerly worked for EuroDNS.

Artemis still needs to beat Amazon at auction or through some other means if it wants to win .secure, which Amazon wants to operate as a closed generic.

OpenRegistry gets €2m financing

Kevin Murphy, September 24, 2013, Domain Registries

New gTLD registry services provider OpenRegistry has secured €2 million ($2.7 million) in financing, the company announced yesterday.

The amount will be “spread over the coming year” and comes from, among other existing investors, Australian registrar Instra.

The Benelux-based company will also see investment from the Luxembourgish government under a ‘Young Innovative Enterprises’ scheme.

OpenRegistry is to provide back-end services for up to 19 new gTLDs and currently manages the registry for .sx, the recently launch ccTLD for Sint Maarten.

Vignes out as CEO of OpenRegistry

OpenRegistry’s founding CEO, Jean-Christophe Vignes, left the position to join a Paris-based law firm last month.

He’s now senior counsel for the domain name practice at Caprioli & Associés.

Vignes said the change of jobs came as part of his family’s move to Paris and that he’s still a member of the OpenRegistry board of directors.

OpenRegistry (also known as Sensirius), which was selected as the back-end registry provider for 21 gTLD applications including .deloitte, .kpn and .schwarz, is based in Belgium.

It is believed that Hans Seeuws, Vignes’ former second in command, is now in charge at OpenRegistry.