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Excite UK is on the verge of becoming part of dotcom history if a buyer can't be found in the next month.

Forty-eight staff could be staring at a bleak New Year following the decision by BTopenworld and Excite@Home to pull out of the joint venture and find a buyer for the portal.

Both partners have been looking for someone to take on the standalone portal business for the last month or so, but have met with little joy.

Excite UK's employees have been told that if no buyer is found then the business will close at the end of the year.

The move to sell up follows BTopenworld's decision to focus its activities on providing Internet access under a single brand, and Excite@Home's decision to focus on broadband products and services as it goes through Chapter 11 proceedings, both companies said in a statement.

Rebecca Miskin, MD of Excite UK, said: "As one of The UK's early media portals, Excite UK has built an impressive, personalised portal service supported by a dedicated team of employees.

"It is unfortunate that the global downturn in media advertising has negatively affected Excite UK's financial performance.

"Based on this and the short time period in which to identify a buyer, I have to acknowledge the possibility of closure of Excite UK," she said.

In June, The Register reported that Excite would pull-out of the UK by the end of the year.

Insiders said that Excite had wanted to pull out in the summer when it culled its operations in France, Germany and Spain, but had been prevented from doing so due to contractual obligations. ®

Last Friday Internet infrastructure services outfit, InfoSpace Inc agreed to buy certain media assets of Excite@Home in the US for 10 million. The deal is subject to approval of the bankruptcy court. ®

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