AOL Gains as Membership Tops 26 Million

America Online (NYSE: AOL) rose 0.16to 48.65 Tuesday after the Dulles, Virginia-based Internet giant saidworldwide membership passed the 26 million mark.

AOL attributed the growth to the popularity of its new version, AOL 6.0,which is used by 35 percent of AOL members. AOL 6.0, introduced in October,is supposed to be easier to use than previous versions, and allows users toaccess their accounts across a range of devices.

The company said it expects AOL 6.0 to continue to pull in new members, andto spur growth during the current holiday shopping season.

“We are extremely pleased with AOL’s continued strong growth, whichunderscores how well the service is meeting the needs of mass marketconsumers worldwide,” said president and chief executive officer BobPittman.

AOL is awaiting U.S. government approval of its planned merger with TimeWarner, Inc., which has been slowed by concerns that AOLcompetitors may not have open access to Time Warner’s cable systems.

The deal combines Time Warner’s Time, CNN, Warner Brothers, People, HBO,Sports Illustrated, Cartoon Network, Warner Music Group, Fortune,Entertainment Weekly and Looney Tunes with America Online’s AOL, CompuServe,Netscape, ICQ instant messaging, Digital City and AOL Moviefone.

Other settlement terms would prohibit any exclusive transactions between Time Warner and AT&T Corp., the nation’s largest cable company.

The companies agreed to merge in January, and the deal was approved by shareholders of both firms in June. AOL officials had planned on completing the combination this year.

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