Bertelsmann to ‘pull Napster plug’

Seeks buyers for online book ops

German media giant Bertelsmann could be ending its love affair with the Internet following reports that it is looking to sell its online book business and cease the funding of Napster.

They say Bertelsmann is in talks with Amazon concerning the sale of etailer BOL.com, set up originally to rival Amazon.

However, Bertelsmann is also understood to be holding discussions with other potential buyers for the online book/CD/games etailer.

It's also understood to be looking to flog its Barnesandnoble.com operation, although AFX newswire quotes an unnamed source who reckons this isn't high on Bertelsmann's list of priorities.

Elsewhere, according to the FT, Bertelsmann is also getting ready to pull the plug on P2P music distribution site, Napster which it bailed out back in May.

If the flurry of reports over the weekend prove correct then this will be a stunning strategic turnaround for Bertelsmann.

At the end of July it was confirmed that Thomas Middelhoff, Chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann, and widely regarded as being the driving force behind the firm's relationship with the Net, would leave the company.

The company blamed his departure on "differences of opinion" concerning the future strategy of Bertelsmann.

Last month The Registerreported that BOL.com's UK operation would cease to be an etailer and, instead, become an online book club.

It's not known if this move will be hit by Bertelsmann's change of strategy. ®

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