US-owned internet giant AOL has hung a 'for sale' sign on its UK service. The Time Warner unit is already touting its French and German operations through investment bank Citigroup, which is seeking outright buyers or a partnership deal.
It is further understood that AOL is looking for a buyer that will allow it to continue its content business. The company is remaining zip-lipped, however.
AOL's profitable British operation, the country's third largest internet service provider, has 2.2 million customers. It employs around 500 staff plus another 800 at a call centre in Ireland.
In common with its US and Continental European counterparts, however, AOL UK has seen increased rivalry as the convergence of technologies spurs acquisitions in the telecoms sector.
A key change has been the merger of firms to enable them to offer customers bundles of phone, broadband and TV access.
UK cable operation NTL recently acquired cellphone firm Virgin Mobile to offer customers a 'quadruple play' package [WAMN: 05-Apr-06], while mobile network rival Orange merged with internet firm Wanadoo, to offer free broadband services to qualifying customers [WAMN: 04-Jul-05].
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff