Carphone Warehouse, parent company to the much criticised ‘free broadband’ play TalkTalk, has announced it is buying AOL UK. The deal was agreed at £370m/$687m – with last year’s profits coming in at $14.1m and gross assets as of last December valued at $77.9m. AOL UK has 600k dial-up users and 1.5m broadband customers.
AOL’s parent company TimeWarner wanted to off-load the access business in what I guess is a generally unimportant territory for them.
Interestingly AOL UK will stay branded as ‘AOL UK’ and not be merged into the TalkTalk brand. Further more AOL and CPWH have agreed an advertising deal across both the TalkTalk and AOL UK portals (does anyone use ISP portals anymore??).
I’m not sure what to make of the news – CPWH is in dire trouble with the free broadband’ aspect of it’s TalkTalk business but it sounds like it’s going to keep AOL’s platform separate rather than use it to improve the service for it’s existing ISP customers.
FreeOpenRide last week – a ‘browser’ (well, actually a new skin for Internet Explorer) that brings together browsing, multimedia and IM to the same window (much like Flock). This is one of the first publicly launched examples of AOL’s new direction, which is effectively getting out of the access business altogether.