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Rumors of a potential buy of CompuServe have been floating more buoyantly over the last few weeks.

Some interesting things would happen if Bertelsmann were to buy Compuserve, and it has reasons to acquire the online service.

Bertelsmann has been wanting to get a larger percentage of its overall sales from the U.S., at least 40% over the next ten years, while right now U.S. sales account for only a quarter of its total $15 billion sales figure. Also, CompuServe could help as Bertelsmann efforts to expand its fledgling multimedia business.

AOL had reportedly offered $1 billion in stock but H&R Block is believed to be holding out for a better offer. Bertelsmann has strong ties with AOL in Europe. While a Bertelsmann deal could potentially give AOL control of more than half the online customers in the U.S., in Europe, AOL would more than double its customer base and develop a strong leadership position. CompuServe's reportedly got about 900,000 Euro users, AOL two-thirds of that. Something we don't hear about over here in the West, Deutsche Telekom AG has the European arena tagged tops with its T-Online service-- about 1.4 million users, says the Associated Press in London.

--TMF News

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