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Symantec May Buy VeriSign Unit, New York Times Says

Symantec Corp. may be close to a $1.3 billion deal for VeriSign Inc.’s authentication services unit, the New York Times reported, citing people briefed on the matter.

An agreement over the business, which provides security technology for online payments, could be reached this week, the newspaper said.

VeriSign Chief Financial Officer Brian Robins canceled a presentation at a JPMorgan Chase & Co. conference yesterday because of a scheduling conflict, according to company spokesman Brad Williams. Dave Reddy, a spokesman for Symantec, declined to comment. He works for outside PR firm Weber Shandwick.

The pullout fueled speculation that VeriSign, the biggest operator of computers that direct Internet traffic, may be involved in merger or acquisition talks, said Jamie Lissette, founder of the Hammerstone Group, a Westport, Connecticut-based operator of online discussion forums for investors.

VeriSign has been selling businesses that don’t fit with its Internet operations. In its main divisions, the company manages the Internet’s dot-com and dot-net addresses and sells online certificates confirming that surfers landed on legitimate websites. Its iDefense unit also helps large companies protect themselves from cyber attacks.

VeriSign rose 61 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $28.84 at 9:37 a.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares had climbed 16 percent this year before today. Symantec gained 2 cents to $15.97.

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