Questions over Bebo as AOL considers asset sale

NEW YORK - AOL is considering the sale of a number of assets although it denies it plans to sell its social networking site Bebo.

According to a Reuters report quoting AOL's CEO Tim Armstrong, the company is reviewing assets and insists Bebo still has "great value".

Armstrong said that Bebo would be moved to a ventures unit within AOL to help improve the site, which has lost much of its shine since it was purchased.

However, despite denials that it will not sell Bebo, the move to elsewhere within AOL has added fuel to speculation that a sale might be AOL's ultimate goal as it prepares to be spun-off from parent company Time Warner.

In January there was speculation that AOL would sell Bebo less than a year after it was acquired for $850m (£417m).

The reports speculated that AOL was contemplating offloading the service for as little as $200m (£140m).

Bebo has been left behind, much like MySpace, as Facebook and Twitter have surged ahead to global popularity.

Armstrong, who was attending the Sun Valley media and technology conference in Idaho gave no details to Reuters about what assets might be put up for sale. They could include services such as its instant messaging brands ICQ and AIM, which have seen popularity dwindle.

Armstrong joined from Google earlier this year and is working on a 100-day review of AOL's business, which has been hard hit by the decline in the advertising market.

AOL has recently relaunched its key news, sport, money & finance, games and travel channels as well as its shopping and motoring commerce channels.

It has also introduced new sites targeted at specific audiences such as Asylum, which targets men, AutoBlog, which covers motoring news, and RubyRoom, which is aimed at women.

Last month AOL shut down its CompuServe service after thirty years. CompuServe was the first major online and email commercial network.

As well as early email, it offered text based forums, know as the CompuServe Internet Service Forums, and was one of a number of services operating others included the likes of Delphi, GEnie, Prodigy and AOL, which is the last of those services to survive.

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