Last year, Afilias began acting as registry operator for .io, .ac and .sh. At the time information began circulating, there was no mention of Afilias having acquired any company and the transition was characterized in industry publications as a registry services contract.
A recent post on Domain Incite makes a compelling case that the deal went beyond registry services and that Afilias effectively purchased these ccTLDs.
The company that previously provided backend services for these TLDs before Afilias is called Internet Computer Bureau Ltd (ICB). The revelation in the filings reviewed by Domain Incite for their story is that Afilias purchased this company in April 2017.
The Domain Incite article notes that the purchase price of $70 million is ten times ICB’s total revenue from the previous year, a figure much too high if only a backend provider were being acquired.
Although not provable via public documents, the implication is that ICB held a long-term contract to operate the .io registry and that this license has now transferred to Afilias.