Time Warner selling AOL internet access business in France
Time Warner Inc.said Wednesday it has agreed to sell AOL France's internet access business to Neuf Cegetel, a French telecommunications network operator, for about $365 million US in cash.
Under the agreement, Neuf Cegetel will acquire AOL's internet access business in France, including its 500,000 broadband customers. The French company will also acquire its ASME operation, which manages AOL France's customer service operations.
Starting in 2007, AOL will provide the content and manage online advertising sales for all of Neuf Cegetel's internet portals. AOL and Neuf Cegetel will share advertising and other revenue from the sites.
The French version of AOL will continue to operate. Together, the two companies' sites attract about nine million unique visitors per month, according to Time Warner.
At the end of 2006, AOL customers will have access to Neuf Cegetel services such as DSL TV and Wi-Fi phone service. The French company said it will focus on converting AOL dial-up subscribers to broadband.
As part of the deal, Neuf Cegetel committed to hire up to 140 AOL France employees.
Neuf Cegetel said the agreement will help it reach its customer goals a year ahead of time. For Time Warner, the deal strengthens its position as a content and advertising provider in Europe. Time Warner is also in the process of selling its Internet access business in Germany.
The agreement is expected to close at the end of October, pending approval from French competition authorities.