UPDATED: VeriSign conference cancellations ignite acquisition rumors

VeriSign's (Nasdaq: VRSN) sudden cancellation of appearances at two investor conferences spurred rumors on Wednesday that the company may be heading to the auction block, and drove VeriSign stock up 7.6 percent in Nasdaq trading. However, a sale was not what was on the company's agenda: Instead, VeriSign announced Thursday that CFO Brian Robins was resigning.

News of Robins' departure drove VeriSign's stock down almost 14 percent.

Ed Maguire, an analyst at Credit Agricole Securities Inc. in New York, told Bloomberg that the cancellation of the two appearances could mean that "significant corporate action may be pending."

There are two possibilities here.

One is they are getting ready to announce a new CEO to replace the recently departed Mark McLaughlin, who left VeriSign last month to join Palo Alto Networks. The other possibility is VeriSign will be acquired by a private equity firm, which could purchase the company and revamp it to become profitable.

After cancelling its appearance at the JPMorgan Chase & Co. conference in May 2010 due to what it said was a scheduling conflict, it announced it was selling its authentication-services unit to Symantec Corp. for $1.28 billion the next day.

Known as a manager of the Internet's dot-com and dot-net addresses, VeriSign has been selling off a number of its "non-core" businesses since 2007, including its communications division and security business.  

For more:
- Bloomberg has this article

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