Verisign is set to purchase Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate provider GeoTrust for about US$125 million in cash, a deal that will give VeriSign access to GeoTrust's extensive reseller channel.

Purchasing GeoTrust also will allow VeriSign to sell to the small-to-medium-sized business market, which it previously did not serve, said VeriSign spokesman Brendan Lewis.

"GeoTrust has a very well-developed reseller channel and has had great success reaching a different type of audience for a different type of SSL certificate," Lewis said. "GeoTrust also has had great success at building technologies that specifically serve that reseller."

GeoTrust's channel of more than 9,000 resellers includes large Internet service providers that bundle SSL certificates with other services, he added.

SSL certificates enable secure sessions and transactions to take place over the Internet.

VeriSign's business grew out of direct sales of SSL certificates to large enterprises, though the company has evolved over the years to provide other network infrastructure products and services, including VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol), online payment processing and managed security services. The company currently has more than 3,000 customers in its SSL business.

The GeoTrust purchase, subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the second half of the year, VeriSign said. The company expects the deal to increase its earnings per share in 2007.