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AOL Europe kicks off strategic review

Favours partnerships - not sale

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Time Warner has hired bankers Citigroup to conduct a strategic review of its AOL Europe business as part of fresh plans to expand its operation.

Contrary to a flurry of recent press reports, the sale of parts of AOL Europe is not top of Time Warner's agenda.

Instead, the US media giant is keen to pursue partnerships or third party agreements - much like the $1bn deal it struck with Google last year - to develop its business in Europe.

In an email seen by The Register, AOL Europe chairman Philip Rowley said that teaming up with other firms is the way forward for the internet giant.

"Time Warner is now conducting a strategic review of AOL Europe, the business models and ownership structure that are in place in each country, and whether and how those models can be shaped, changed, and improved," he said the in the email.

"It is envisaged that there will be conversations with potential partners about a number of ways we can work together, and we welcome that. Partnerships can take many forms, for example, ours with Google."

An industry source familiar with the situation told us that sale of parts of the business couldn't be ruled out, but it is not thought to be a top priority for execs.

"Talk of selling parts of AOL France and AOL Germany are a bit premature," the source said. "AOL Europe is gearing up for expansion...and sees the creation of partnerships as the way forward.

Last year Time Warner carried out a similar review of its business in the US sparking plenty of stories about the sale of the business. At the time Microsoft and Yahoo! were linked with a possible buy-out but in the end, AOL teamed up with Google which took a five per cent stake in AOL in exchange for a $1bn investment. ®

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