HuffPost ready to launch in UK

New owner AOL decides to accelerate website's launch as part of its expansion

The Huffington Post is set to launch in the UK this summer as it seeks to expand internationally after its acquisition by AOL last month

Arianna Huffington said yesterday it was "day one" of the UK news site's development but after initial discussions with the London-based team on Wednesday morning "we decided to accelerate the launch".

"This is a great moment and a great opportunity," she said. "It is a natural progression. The team is already in place here and it means bringing together everything we've been doing since the merger; all the brands we've chosen to invest in ." The design team has been working on mock-ups of how the UK site would look.

AOL agreed to buy The Huffington Post last month in a deal worth $315m (£194m). Ms Huffington was appointed to lead the Huffington Post Media Group, which integrates the site with the existing brands produced by AOL.

Ms Huffington was in the UK this week to meet the international AOL team run by Kate Burns. She was joined by AOL chairman and chief executive Tim Armstrong.

"We are planning to expand our high-quality content brands internationally, especially in the UK," Mr Armstrong said. "From an internet perspective UK is a top three market in the world we're going to focus on. This will be critical for us."

Recently, it bought Goviral, a online video-distribution network, for $74m.

Mr Armstrong said there were no major acquisitions in the UK planned "right now", but said the company was open to deals and would invest in taking its existing brands abroad. The international business has gone from losing "tens of millions of dollars" to being profitable in 12 months after it brought in Ms Burns, Mr Armstrong said.

He has set about overhauling AOL since arriving in 2009: "Two years ago this deal for HuffPost would not have been possible to do so quickly." After spinning out of Time Warner at the beginning of 2010, the company has set about cutting fat and moving from a turnaround to "a comeback", he said. "We are aggressively playing offense."

The teams were fully integrated last Monday, Mr Armstrong said. "It has been roughly 60 days since the deal was verbally agreed. This has been the largest, fastest integration. Physical, mental, emotional integration has happened."

Mr Armstrong said the company could now look forward with confidence despite changes in the media industry: "Disruption means change and there's probably more disruption in our industry. Being in front of disruption is probably better than being in the back; it's a fun place for us right now." He added: "London has one of the most exciting media markets both online and offline."

Ms Huffington said: "While it looks like everything is in flux it is important to remember that most of the traditional values of journalism are as true now as they have ever been. Whether the medium is video, in print or online, the same principles apply. In the excitement of building the future, sometimes people forget the great traditions of the past that we want to honour."

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