Time Warner looks at sell off of UK AOL operation

LONDON – AOL is reportedly looking to sell off its UK internet operation as part of a strategic review of its European business.

The Time Warner-owned firm is already looking for buyers for its French and German internet service operations, but has now added the UK to the list, according to media reports.

It is reported that investment bank Citigroup has been asked to look for buyers, which could include an outright sale or a partnership deal. It is further understood that AOL is looking for a buyer that will allow it to continue its content business.

This latest move by AOL comes at a time of upheaval in the UK internet sector, as the convergence of technologies is spurring acquisitions in the telecoms sector.

A key change has been a merger of firms to enable them to offer customers multi-packages of phone, broadband and TV access.

Recent developments have included NTL's acquisition of Virgin Mobile to offer customers a combined TV, phone, mobile and broadband package. Also Orange has merged with ISP Wanadoo, to offer free broadband services to certain customers.

In March AOL began planning the launch of a local telecoms network to allow it to deliver internet, telephone and other broadband services such as video on demand.

AOL declined to comment, but a source close to the firm said that Citigroup is "considering all options as part of its European review."

"It is a bit premature to say whether this will be a sale or a partnership and Citigroup will be talking to a lot of people over the coming weeks."

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