AOL Time Warner Inc. is negotiating with British cable powerhouse NTL Inc.
to establish a broadband-distribution venture.
NTL, the largest cable operator in Britain, has other operations throughout
Europe. The company is also the second-largest telephone company in the United
Kingdom -- behind British Telecommunications plc -- offering customers a bundled
package of voice, video and data services.
While America Online Inc. has a strong international presence, it is mainly
for dial-up Internet customers. A distribution agreement with NTL would give AOL
access to about 8.3 million subscribers and some 15 million homes passed in the
United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Switzerland and Sweden.
'While it is true that we are in the early stages of talks with AOL about
some potential joint activity, apart from an outline term sheet, nothing has
been agreed to at this stage and we have nothing to announce,' an NTL
AOL Time Warner spokesman Rich D'Amato would
not comment on any particular discussions, but he said, 'We're talking to broadband players across Europe,
and that would include NTL.'
According to reports, AOL Time Warner would provide its content in exchange
for access to NTL's network and a share of the broadband revenue.
Last month, AOL Time Warner chairman Steve Case and CEO Gerald Levin both
singled out the international market as a major opportunity for growth, setting
a goal of increasing international sales from 17 percent of total revenue to 50
percent in the next 10 years.
NTL stock closed at $29.09 each Monday, up $1.95 per
share. AOL Time Warner was up 51 cents to $50.50.