Excite@Home chief schtum on Chello takeover

Chello, the Dutch broadband ISP that has entered the New Zealand market in partnership with Saturn, may be about to be swallowed up by the US's Excite@Home.

          Excite@Home CEO George Bell said here on Wednesday that the US-based broadband company is definitely expanding into Europe as well as into Asia this year, but refused to comment on rumors that the company is in talks to acquire Netherlands-based Chello Broadband NV.

          "The press seems to have worked itself up into a frenzy over Chello," Bell told the IDG News Service at The Wall Street Journal Europe's CEO Summit on Converging Technologies.

          "But no comment is no comment," Bell replied when asked if published reports are correct that partnership talks with the European high-speed Internet operator are in an advanced stage.

          "We are talking to a number of people about partnerships. Expansion is one of our key priorities this year. We're first trying to figure out what the heck we are going to provide first," Bell said.

          "What I can tell you is that we will enter these markets with partners. We won't go it alone," Bell said.

          According to Bell, Excite@Home expects to have 3 million subscriptions worldwide by the end of this year, with that number growing to 10 million by the year 2002.

          Excite@Home, in Redwood City, California, can be reached at http://www.excite.com/. Chello Broadband, can be reached at http://www.chello.co.nz

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