Excite@Home May Sell Some Media Assets

Excite@Home Corp.’s media business is performing below the company’s expectations, and it may consider selling certain media assets to raise much-needed cash, Chief Executive George Bell said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bell confirmed the company has had discussions with Patti S. Hart to become Excite’s new chief executive. Ms. Hart is the former chief executive of Telocity Inc., which was acquired this month by General Motors Corp.’s (GM) Hughes Electronic Corp. unit (GMH). Mr. Bell said last September he would resign as CEO when a replacement is named.

But Mr. Bell said Tuesday Excite@Home, which is controlled by AT&T Corp. (T), wasn’t ready to announce a new chief executive yet. The plan to name Ms. Hart to the post was reported Tuesday by The Wall StreetJournal.

In a conference call Tuesday morning, Mr. Bell said “it’s the nonbroadband elements of our business that are underperforming right now.” He added that the company would consider the sale of “nonbroadband media assets” to raise cash.

Excite@Home’s core business is delivering high-speed, or broadband, Internet access over cable-television lines. Mr. Bell said the broadband business remains strong. The company reported in a press release Tuesday it added 450,000 subscribers in the first quarter ended March 31, bringing the customer base to 3.2 million.

Its media business, which includes the Excite Web portal, is the source of the company’s weakness. The downturn in the online-advertising market has hurt Excite’s revenue, and executives don’t see a turnaround anytime soon.

“We see a soft media market at least through the end of the year and beyond,” Mr. Bell said, adding that 2001 media revenue would be “substantially” less than the $308 million posted in 2000.

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