Blaming the slump in online advertising, US-headquartered internet services firm Excite@Home has decided to close all but two of its European portal operations.

Ten portals – including businesses in Spain, France and Germany – are to shut down, with the loss of around 85 jobs. The two countries to retain an Excite presence are Italy, where the firm is partnered by Tiscali, and the UK, where it has a joint venture with British Telecom.

The European businesses – which do not include the @Home Benelux broadband venture – have been up for sale since April. However, Excite yesterday announced that no suitor had been “able to meet our valuation expectations for the business in the time frame available.”

“Because of the downturn in the online advertising market we found our ability to get companies to profitability in a time frame that was acceptable was not there,” explained Evan Rudowski, Excite Europe’s managing director. “[The US parent company] cannot afford to keep spending money in Europe.”

The portals are dependent on advertising for their revenue, though Rudowski added that the UK operation had been able to diversify its sources of income, actually making a profit in the first quarter.

News source: Financial Times