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Report: AOL courting buyers for TechCrunch and Engadget? [UPDATE] AOL says report is “untrue”

PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy reports tonight that AOL may be looking to sell two of their most popular tech properties: TechCrunch and Engadget. According to “two independent sources”, AOL is seeking between $70 million and $100 million for the two sites, which would likely be sold together as AOL Tech. The deal may even include smaller AOL Tech properties, such as Joystiq and TUAW.

Lacy says AOL management will spend “the next six months to a year” carefully evaluating the potential sale, though apparently that timeline could progress quicker should the right deal present itself. AOL’s editorial branch has had a rough go of it these last few years; the company acquired TechCrunch in late 2010, and a few months later purchased The Huffington Post. Arianna Huffington was immediately appointed to oversee all of AOL’s editorial properties, including Engadget and TechCrunch. Then came a mass exodus of staff from Engadget, who left to start The Verge, followed by the very public departure of Michael Arrington from TechCrunch late last year. It was confirmed earlier this week that Arianna Huffington no longer oversees AOL Tech, and perhaps now we know why.

So who might be interested in buying AOL Tech? Now that Arianna Huffington is out of the picture, perhaps TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington wants back in? Lacy, who used to work for TechCrunch herself, asked Arrington about the possibility of him buying back the site he created. His response: “I don’t know anything. No one tells me anything. I am not in the least bit interested [in buying back TechCrunch]. I was Team Pando all the way until Sarah Lacy fired me. That does not change my position on TechCrunch.”

Another potentially interested party, according to the original report, is All Things D’s Kara Swisher. Lacy says Swisher was “kicking some tires” to add Engadget and TechCrunch to the ATD portfolio. However, unlike PandoDaily, I reached out to Swisher, who tells me the report is “very false”.

“I never tried to buy TC, except to perhaps joke that it would be a funny thing. Plus I have zero money to do so,” Swisher clarified. “We never kicked tires of TechCrunch, though we do try to beat them (to the scoop)!”

PandoDaily was apparently approached about participating in a bid for the sites, but they declined. Regardless, it appears that change is afoot once again for AOL Tech.

UPDATE: Alexia Tsotsis, current co-editor of TechCrunch, tweeted her response to the rumours: a simple “Lol”. In addition, Kara Swisher says she’s heard AOL is merely separating the AOL Tech and HuffPo divisions, and giving AOL Tech it’s own sales force.

UPDATE 2: In an interview with Reuters this morning, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong denied that the company is trying to sell TechCrunch and Engadget, saying the PandoDaily report is “100 percent untrue”.

Source: PandoDaily, Reuters

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