Report: Verizon may be planning to buy AOL

Verizon Wireless may plant AOL's digital ad service in its mobile video services, according to Bloomberg

U.S. telecommunications provider Verizon may be in the process of acquiring digital media company AOL, the Bloomberg news service has reported.

Verizon is interested in AOL's digital advertising unit, which it could incorporate into the mobile video service offered by its Verizon Wireless subsidiary, anonymous sources familiar with the talks told Bloomberg.

As an alternative to an outright acquisition, the two companies may also be considering starting a joint venture that would bring the digital advertising capabilities to Verizon's cellular network customers, according to the report.

Verizon declined to comment, though its CEO Lowell McAdam --speaking Tuesday at the Citi Global Internet, Media and Telecommunications conference in Las Vegas -- described the possibility of the AOL acquisition as "really not accurate," a Verizon spokesman confirmed.

Verizon is investigating a wide range of potential partnerships with digital media companies, McAdam said.

While AOL came to prominence as one of the first commercial providers of consumer Internet access, the company has shifted its strategy in recent years to focus on becoming an online media company, acquiring highly trafficked Web sites such as HuffingtonPost and TechCrunch. The company draws about 250 million unique visitors to its sites every month.

AOL also maintains a legacy dial-up Internet service, which is still used by over 2 million subscribers.

Verizon Wireless, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications, provides cell phone service to over 106 million customers.

On news of the rumor, AOL stock rose Tuesday by 2.9 percent, to US $46.04, as of 11:35 a.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

AOL has not immediately responded to a request for comment.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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