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Bertelsmann To Sell Its AOL Europe Stake

Bertelsmann is to sell its 50 percent stake in the online service AOL Europe by the end of March, according to sources at the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ).

The SZ reported in its weekend edition that the share package will be taken over by the American parent company of AOL Europe, America Online; whether in whole or in part is yet to be confirmed. The sales negotiations are already in their final phase, according to SZ sources.

SZ further claims that two sales scenarios are currently being discussed. Either AOL will take over the entire Bertelsmann stake in AOL Europe for approximately 15 billion marks ($7.6 billion), or Bertelsmann will merely sell between 35 and 40 percent to the U.S. company and put the rest on the stock market. The second solution should bring Bertelsmann up to 20 billion marks ($10.1 million).

The newspaper claims that Bertelsmann chief executive Thomas Middelhoff has already made definite plans to use the proceeds from the sale of AOL Europe for purchases in the music sector.

By the end of the year, Bertelsmann is expected to either take over the music sector of Universal or that of Sony, in order to meet its goal of the biggest sound carrier company worldwide.



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