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'Exploratory' talks on AOL future, says TW

Not just 'rumour and speculation'

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Time Warner has confirmed that it is holding "exploratory" talks with a number of operators over the future of its AOL internet division.

Speaking yesterday Time Warner chief exec Dick Parsons admitted that the internet giant was "holding exploratory discussions with a number of strategic partners" concerning a "range of potential strategic relationships and transactions".

Which merely confirms the buzz of the last couple of months that has linked, in no particular order by the way, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google and cableco Comcast with AOL.

Parsons' admission comes as Time Warner published its Q3 results for the three months to September and showed yet more disappointing news for AOL. Revenues were down $100m (5 per cent) to $2bn as the ISP continued to see subscription revenue fall.

The reason appears straightforward enough - punters are still leaving the ISP in their droves.

In the three months to September 678,000 US net users jumped ship taking the total number of punters to 20.1m - down 2.6m compared to this time last year.

While in Europe, AOL lost almost 100,000 punters over the summer - down 170,000 on the year - taking total numbers in the UK, France and Germany to 6.1m.

Despite the fall in revenues operating income rose $41m , or 16 per cent, to $302m.

Two weeks ago AOL announced that 700 jobs would be culled reflecting the fall in subscriber numbers. ®

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