Senior managers at AOL Bertelsmann Online Europe have confirmed that they will adopt a softly-softly approach to tampering with the branding of Britain’s leading online service provider, CompuServe.
AOL and CompuServe’s US owner, H&R Block, confirmed details of the takeover of Compu-Serve UK by the AOL joint venture last week, as they outlined the $1.2bn buyout of the CompuServe brand.
Jonathan Bulkeley, managing director of AOL UK, says: “The deal won’t close for the next six months. After that, the two brands will remain, and each will have its own positioning and membership base. But we will look for synergies across the businesses.”
The combined subscriber bases of both businesses add up to about 600,000. According to Roger Green, joint managing director of EMAP Online: “The combined business in the UK will be very big – the rest of its competitors put together haven’t got many more customers.”
Green, who has tracked subscriber growth Britain, adds: “It may make sense to continue to segment the CompuServe and AOL subscriber base. AOL has a reputation for being entertainment-based, while Compu-Serve is oriented towards serious business.”
Bulkeley denies AOL UK will rationalise the subscriber base by encouraging customers to switch between the two brands according to their interests.