The European Commission has approved the planned sale of AOL's UK ISP business to Carphone Warehouse. The deal follows recent similar sell-offs in Germany and France.

The Commission said that its month-long examination of the proposed transaction showed that in the sectors where the companies' activities overlap, internet access services and fixed-line telephony services, the combined entity's share of the relevant market "would not give rise to competition concerns as the new firm would continue to face effective competitive pressure from other market participants”.

Time Warner, AOL's owner, has been retreating from the internet access business in Europe, where its subscriber numbers are declining.

AOL has about 5.9 million customers for its three European divisions, in the UK, France and Germany. In September it agreed to sell its French operation to Neuf Cegetel SA for €288 million. A month later it agreed to sell its German Internet service provider to Telecom Italia SpA for €675 million.