ICQ sold to Russian company

AOL has sold its ICQ instant messaging service to Digital Sky Technologies, a large Russian internet investment firm, for $187 million, less than half the price it paid in 1998.

The deal comes as part of AOL's ongoing restructuring as an independent company, following its spin-off from Time Warner last December.

ICQ is a 14-year-old technology, developed by Mirabilis in Israel and acquired by AOL in 1998 for over $400 million in cash and shares.

The service once had over 150 million users. Currently, 32 million users connect to ICQ every month, according to AOL.

DST has stakes in many Russian and Eastern European internet companies. It also bought a 1.96 per cent slice of Facebook last May, paying $200 million.