DARMSTADT, Germany (AP) _ Europe's biggest Internet service provider, T-Online International AG, posted a $161 million (179 million euro) net loss Thursday for the first half after one-time charges related to its initial public offering in April and acquisitions.

But he number of subscribers to T-Online more than doubled to 6 million, up from just 2.7 million in the first half of last year. And the company, a Deutsche Telekom spinoff, said it expects to be in the black in two to three years.

Internationally, T-Online will expand by starting up its own units or through acquisitions, focusing on the core European market, acting chairman Detlev Buchal said. Swiss operations will be established this year, he said, and ``I can assure you further steps are being prepared.''

``We're intensively looking for partners,'' he said.

At the same time, Buchal said T-Online wants to transform itself into a content provider, an area he called ``competitively decisive.'' The company is pursuing several joint-ventures in this area, including one with German publishing house Axel Springer Verlags AG.

Excluding consolidation costs, T-Online said its pretax earnings fell to $9 million (10.1 million euros) from $12.8 million (14.2 million euros) in the same period last year.

T-Online said sales in the first half almost doubled to $318 million.

Buchal wouldn't comment on the sudden departure of former chairman Wolfgang Keuntje last Friday, other than thanking him for his efforts.

Keuntje apparently resigned after a disagreement with Deutsche Telekom chief executive Ron Sommer about how much to pay for Britain-based Internet service provider Freeserve PLC. The two companies were in partnership talks that did not pan out.