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AOL UK Waves "For Sale" Sign

Posted: 02nd Jun, 2006 By: MarkJ
ISP AOL UK, which is owned by the American media giant Time Warner, has put itself up for sale following several months of speculation. The investment bank Citigroup has now been tasked with finding a buyer:

As part of its strategic review of AOL's European operations, Citigroup is understood to have approached players in the communications industry about buying AOL UK's access business or going into a partnership with it. In December, AOL struck a deal that saw the search engine Google buy a 5% stake for $1bn (£540m).

The idea of the deal was to create a global advertising partnership and would include collaboration on new products such as a video service using Time Warner's content and integrated instant messaging. But the Google deal moved AOL away from providing web access and as that market becomes more commoditised it is looking to get out of Europe. The British business is profitable, although specific figures have never been spelt out. AOL would prefer a buyer willing to allow it to continue to operate a content business in Britain, based around its portal. AOL refused to comment.


The Guardian newspaper reminds us that AOL has roughly 2.2m customers in the UK, 1.3m of which are using its broadband service. It is one of the countries oldest providers and has a different design to the majority of rivals.

So, who will buy it? AOL UK is simply too big for most ISP’s alone to consider it, while many of the larger players have already settled down following a period of acquisition and consolidation. Place your bets.
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