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Years of keeping government Internet reformers at bay has paid off for Network Solutions, Inc. Last month the company strutted its stuff on the market, and the dot-com wholesaler barely had to bat an eyelash to attract a serious suitor: data encryption services giant VeriSign Inc. The resulting $17 billion stock transaction is the largest deal ever involving two Internet companies, and would create the third-largest Internet company, behind America Online Inc. and Yahoo! Inc., according to The Daily Deal, an affiliate of The American Lawyer.

NSI and the Mountain View, Californiabased VeriSign originally valued the deal at $21 billion, but after announcing the agreement on March 6, VeriSign shares dropped 19 percent, which reduces the value of the deal. NSI’s stock, however, rose by 13 percent. Unlike the drawn-out ICANN deal, the merger negotiations were frenetic. NSI sidestepped one of its longtime outside corporate counsel, San Franciscobased Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, the firm that took the company public in 1997, in favor of New York powerhouse Davis Polk & Wardwell. VeriSign turned to Palo Alto’s Fenwick & West, the firm that did the company’s IPO in 1998. Pillsbury’s managing partner, Marina Park, responded to the blow. “The NSI deal underscores our decision to try to get into New York in a big way,” she told The Recorder, a San Franciscobased American Lawyer Media affiliate, adding that the firm is eyeing merger candidates in New York.

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