World Online expands European empire with Bun.com

The Sun's bun.com gets gobbled by World Online

Pan-European Internet service provider (ISP) World Online swallowed up The Sun's Bun.com on Thursday in a acquisition that has made it one of Britain's five largest ISPs. One analyst believes the company should be watched closely by UK Internet brands.

Bun.com was created by News International in March 1999 and currently has over 450,000 subscribers. According to an World Online spokeswoman, for the time being, Bun.com will remain unchanged, although it will eventually be "integrated" into World Online. The name of the integrated service is not yet known. Financial details were also not disclosed.

World Online has been in shopping mode for some time with numerous acquisitions across Europe, including UK communications company Telinco Networks, and makes no secret of its desire to be Europe's leading ISP. As well as filling its trolley, the company has cosied-up on content deals with the likes of Ministry of Sound, Yak.com, Gamers World, GlobalNet and QXL.

Senior IDC analyst James Eibisch reckons the move should be treated as a clear warning by the rest of Europe's ISPs. "This company is massive," he says. "They have really started accelerating in the last few weeks. They've got their eyes on overtaking AOL and becoming the biggest ISP in Europe."

World Online UK chief executive Simon Preston is suitably chuffed by the agreement. "Bun.com customers will continue to experience top quality Internet service," he said in a statement. "They will now have the added benefit of easy access to World Online's compelling range of exclusive UK content, pan-European network and e-commerce facilities."

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