French media and utilities giant Vivendi has started talks with America On-Line (AOL) about selling its stake in AOL France.

Vivendi managing director Philippe Germond made it clear last week that: "our wish is to get out of AOL France and not to have a shareholding link with it."

While Germond said that AOL France was beginning to find limits to its growth due to its market position as a premium service, it was apparent that all of AOL's European partners were uncomfortable with their joint ventures once the takeover of Time Warner by AOL was announced.

AOL France, which had 500,000 subscribers at the end of February, is 55% owned by Vivendi and 45% owned by AOL. Vivendi, which is a telecoms provider in its own right and has an Internet joint venture with Vodafone Airtouch, has not ruled out becoming an Internet service provider in France or other parts of Europe.