Will AT&T (NYSE: T) sell its stake in Excite@Home? Maybe.
"We continue to explore many alternatives with respect to our Internet strategy and our ownership interest in Excite@Home," AT&T said in a statement issued after market close. "The alternatives include internal options as well as discussions with third parties. The exploration of alternatives remains at the very preliminary stage, and at this time, AT&T has not made any decision to pursue any particular alternative or transaction."
The AT&T statement did not name any other potential buyers.
Rumors that AT&T will sell its stake in Excite@Home have circulated this week, including a rumor pointing to America Online as the buyer. AT&T's president of broadband and Internet services, Leo Hindery, denied that one. "Absolutely not. There have been no discussions underway whatsoever," Hindery told Reuters on Wednesday. "I typically don't comment on things of that sort. But when it's absurd, I do."
Shares of Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) have been rising on the rumors. The stock rose to 44 in after hours trading on Instinet. Excite@Home closed Thursday's regular trading at 41 7/16.
For its part, Excite@Home followed up with a similar statement to AT&T late Thursday night.
"As we have previously stated, the Excite@Home management team, in conjunction with our cable partners, has periodically explored, and will continued to explore, many alternatives for maximizing shareholder value," said Excite@Home. "Like all companies in the Internet industry, we are continuously assessing various forms of strategic relationships. There is no certainty that any transaction will occur and we will not comment further until we decide definitively to pursue any particular transaction, if any.">