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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.

OpenRegistry behind 20 new gTLD apps

Kevin Murphy, April 25, 2012, Domain Registries

OpenRegistry will provide the back-end technical infrastructure for 20 new generic top-level domain applications filed by 15 clients, according to a report.

Dutch telco KPN, consultancy Deloitte and financial management firm LPL Financial are among its dot-brand clients, according to Knack.be, quoting executives.

Presumably, we’re looking at bids for .kpn and .lpl as well as .deloitte, which Deloitte confirmed earlier this month.

Its portfolio of applications also includes two cities – one is .gent for Ghent, the other is an American city – and two generic terms that have not yet been revealed.

(UPDATE: While OpenRegistry is not naming the American city, I hear through the grapevine that it might be Boston).

Its clients have a total market cap of $150 billion, according to the report.

That’s not a bad roster for the start-up, whose technical arm is known as Sensirius. The Benelux company was founded in late 2010 by former executives from EuroDNS and Belgian ccTLD manager DNS.be.

A year ago it won the contract to manage the back-end for .sx, the new ccTLD for Sint Maarten.

The world’s newest TLD – ICANN approves .sx

Kevin Murphy, December 2, 2011, Domain Registries

ICANN’s board of directors has finally approved .sx, the new country-code top-level domain for newly autonomous Dutch territory Sint Maarten.

In an unexpected non-meeting earlier this week, the board voted to delegate .sx to SX Registry, a joint venture of Luxembourg registry startup OpenRegistry and Canadian registrar MediaFusion.

The vote had been delayed from the board’s meeting in October as SX Registry went through the required pre-delegation motions with ICANN’s IANA department.

Sint Maarten was created in October 2010 when the Netherlands Antilles (.an) split into three separate territories.

The ccTLD .cw for Curacao was assigned to the University of the Netherlands Antilles in October this year, but .bq for Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba, has yet to be delegated.

The legacy .an domain is scheduled to be decommissioned before October 2014.

Two new TLDs to be approved next week

Kevin Murphy, October 6, 2011, Domain Registries

ICANN is set to approve two new country-code top-level domains next week – .cw and .sx – for the year-old nations of Curacao and Sint Maarten.

The two countries were created when the Netherlands Antilles split last October.

The ICANN board of directors plans to rubber-stamp the delegations of both ccTLDs next Tuesday, according to the consent agenda for its meeting.

It also plans to vote on the “transition” arrangements for the Netherlands Antilles’ .an, which is now a ccTLD without a country.

The .an space won’t be the first TLD to be deprecated. Yugoslavia’s .yu disappeared in March last year, for example, a few years after Serbia and Montenegro acquired their own ccTLDs.

The recipient of .sx is expected to be SX Registry, a joint venture of Luxembourg registry startup OpenRegistry and Canadian registrar MediaFusion.

OpenRegistry CEO Jean-Christophe Vignes said that if ICANN votes for the delegation the company will start talks with potential registrar partners at the ICANN Dakar meeting later this month.

MediaFusion and Vignes’ alma mater EuroDNS have already been approved to act as .sx registrars.

The company plans to use CHIP, the ClearingHouse for Intellectual Property, for its sunrise period.

Anyone with a .an registration predating December 2010 will be able to request the equivalent .sx name under a grandfathering program the company plans to launch.

It will be the first TLD that OpenRegistry has provided the back-end infrastructure for.

OpenRegistry wins .gent registry deal

Add another city top-level domain to your lists, the Belgian city of Ghent is set to apply for .gent, using OpenRegistry as its back-end registry software provider

The application for .gent will be made to ICANN by ComBell, a smallish local registrar, which already has the required local government support.

Ghent is Belgium’s third-largest city, with 250,000 residents, so we’re probably looking at a relatively low-volume TLD.

The “Gent” spelling is Dutch.

It sounds like ComBell will be running the infrastructure, assuming the bid is approved, using OpenRegistry’s software, which has also been selected to run a couple of small new ccTLDs.

OpenRegistry wins .sx contract

Kevin Murphy, March 16, 2011, Domain Registries

OpenRegistry, the recently formed registry services provider, has won its first top-level domain deal.

The Benelux-based company has been signed up to provide the back-end registry for .sx, the country-code TLD newly assigned to Sint Maarten.

The deal with Sint Maarten’s government will see the formation of a new company, SX Registry SA, a joint venture of OpenRegistry and MediaFusion, a small Canadian registrar.

MediaFusion’s president, Normand Fortier, will serve as CEO of the company.

The registry’s policies and registrar partners will be announced over the coming weeks, but OpenRegistry CEO Jean-Christophe Vignes tells me the plan is to have a completely open, global ccTLD, along similar lines to the recently relaunched .co domain.

The ClearingHouse for Intellectual Property, CHIP, has been engaged to provide trademark protection services for .sx’s sunrise period.

Sint Maarten is a new country, one of three that formed following the break-up of the Netherlands Antilles (.an) last October. It was assigned .sx in December.

As such, the ccTLD has not yet been officially delegated to anyone, and the new company is hopeful it will be able to lock it down by ICANN’s June meeting in Singapore.

OpenRegistry, while employing experienced staff, does not currently operate any TLD registries. The .sx deal may make the company more appealing to other new TLD applicants.

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