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Monday, 2 September, 2002, 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK
Bertelsmann 'in e-commerce retreat'
Image from Bertelsmann website
German media giant Bertelsmann is considering a retreat from some of its most high-profile e-commerce ventures, sources close to the firm say.

Online book seller Bol.com, a competitor of Amazon.com, is one of the units thought to be on the block.

And the future of Napster and BeMusic - two online music services - are also hanging in the balance.

The change in direction is attributed to the firm's new chief executive, Gunter Thielen, as he tries to focus on core profitable operations.

The strategy of the new boss stands in marked contrast with his predecessor, Thomas Middelhoff, a champion of e-commerce.

Upcoming announcement

Mr Middlehoff launched an ambitious expansion, trying to create a media giant on the scale of AOL Time Warner.

Napster- the controversial online song swapping service - tops the list of potential casualties to stop receiving funding.

Mr Middlehoff had wanted to relaunch Napster as a legitimate service, and agreed to buy its assets as the firm emerges from bankruptcy.

Napster is unlikely to have a future without funding from Bertelsmann, sources say.

Bertelsmann's board has already agreed to withdraw from its e-commerce operations, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The group is expected to announce a major shake-up shortly, and focus on its core assets of television, book publishing and record labels.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Victoria Broadbent
"Bertelsmann is believed to be planning to sell bol.com, the world's second largest online bookseller."
See also:

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