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AOL Buys Blogging Company

America Online Inc., the world's largest Internet service provider, will boost its presence in the blog community with its acquisition of Weblogs Inc., a leading blogging company.

AOL, with 21 million subscribers in the United States, will inherit 85 blogging sites, including Engadget and Autoblog, where users can read about everything from travel to technology and debate on topics like parenting and movies.

AOL also operates services in Britain, France and Germany through its AOL Europe business unit. Combined, these countries serve more than 6.1 million members, according to the company.

The agreement, which was signed Wednesday, is expected to close next week. The deal will make the Santa Monica, California, and New York-based Weblogs a wholly owned, stand-alone subsidiary of AOL, operating with full editorial control and independence.

AOL, a division of Time Warner Inc., is paying $25 million in an all-cash transaction, said an industry executive familiar with the deal. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose financial details.

The move will give AOL users access to an array of unfiltered content. Weblogs hosts more than 100 independent, freelance expert bloggers producing more than 1,000 blog postings weekly. Some of its most popular blogs include topics such as luxury, technology, automotive and gaming. Blog links will be embedded and integrated across the AOL service, such as the Autos Channel and Games Channel.

Weblogs content will also be incorporated within AOL properties such as Moviefone and Netscape. users will be able to connect to Weblogs via the LiveWeb and People Connection links on the homepage.

Weblogs is AOL's third acquisition this year. The company acquired Wildseed Inc. and Xdrive Inc. in August.

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