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AOL sells AOL France

Still looking for UK buyer

AOL continued its strategy of separating its internet access and content businesses in Europe, with the sale of its French internet access business to Neuf Cegetel.

The deal, announced Thursday, is worth €288m (about £195m) and includes an ongoing partnership between AOL and Neuf Cegetel, a broadband operator.

It's the second such deal in a week. On Sunday, Telecom Italia bought AOL's German internet access business for €675m (£455m).

The AOL France acquisition includes 500,000 broadband customers as well as AOL France's customer service operation.

AOL France said in August that it was in negotiations with Neuf Cegetel. The confirmation came around the same time that AOL announced that it would begin offering its content services for free to any visitor to its portals around the world. Previously, the content and services were available only to subscribers.

Earlier in the year, Telecom Italia made an offer for AOL's businesses in Germany and France. The German business acquired by the operator earlier this week had 1.1 million broadband customers as of June, and 1.3 million dial-up subscribers. AOL is still looking for a buyer for its remaining European internet access business, including its UK ISP.

The change in strategy, whereby the company will focus on primarily earning revenue from online advertising, came as it struggled to retain internet access customers. The firm will retain its internet access business in the US but pay less attention to subscriber growth there.

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