America Online is in talks to purchase Netscape in an all-stock transaction that is said to be worth in excess of $US4 billion, according to numerous press reports appearing over the weekend.
The press reports, appearing on US television, radio and online versions of the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, said that Sun Microsystems, may also be involved in the deal.
The stories quote unnamed sources said to be close to the deal.
The leaked details include AOL taking over Netscape's Web portal, or "Netcenter" as well as Netscape's popular Web browser software. Reportedly, Sun would take over the enterprise side of Netscape's business and pay AOL a fee for using Netscape technology. Netscape currently sells a number of business applications, including those used for messaging, groupware, and electronic commerce applications.
Sun, AOL and Netscape have reportedly been in talks all week and this weekend and could reach a deal before the stock markets open in the US on Monday morning (today our time).
The deal would mean that AOL would retain the Netscape brand name and would not involve any staff lay-offs, according to the reports. Netscape's president and CEO, James Barksdale, has reportedly been offered a seat on AOL's board of directors as part of the deal.
The deal could have far reaching effects on the Department of Justice case against Microsoft, as well as changing the landscape of the "browser wars."
Sources familiar with the deal reportedly said that AOL would now be in a position to get a huge amount of e-commerce on the Web. In addition to its own 14 million subscribers, Netscape's Netcenter gets about 20 million visitors per month.