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Germany OKs CompuServe Takeover

December 1, 1997

BONN, Germany (AP) _ German regulators have approved the takeover of CompuServe online services by America Online Inc. and its German partner, Bertelsmann AG, antitrust officials said Monday.

The U.S.-based America Online had announced plans in September to acquire CompuServe’s worldwide operations, and U.S. regulators approved the move two weeks ago.

In Europe, AOL will jointly run CompuServe’s European operations with German media group Bertelsmann AG in a portion of the deal that required approval of German regulators.

A Bertelsmann spokeswoman said Monday the company was checking whether it needed British approval, but that it otherwise believed no further approval was needed from European officials.

As part of the overall deal, the U.S. telecommunications company WorldCom, which owns CompuServe, will give AOL its CompuServe services and $1.2 billion in exchange for AOL’s ANS Communications division, which provides Internet access mainly for large business customers. WorldCom will retain CompuServe’s 1,200 corporate customers.

Bertelsmann will pay AOL $75 million as part of the exchange, and then $175 for a part in the Compuserve operations.

America Online, which already has 700,000 subscribers in Europe, and Bertelsmann have been in an European online services venture since 1995.

The two firms will each invest $25 million in an expanded joint venture to operate CompuServe’s European online services, which have 185,000 subscribers.

America Online will gain 2.6 million subscribers worldwide from CompuServe’s flagship online service, CSi, along with 287,000 members of Sprynet, CompuServe’s Internet-only service. AOL already has about 9 million subscribers worldwide.

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