AOL deal put HuffPost on global stage: Huffington

Reported by Karen Tso, written by Holly Ellyatt
'World Post' launching to create global hub: Huffington

AOL's $315 million purchase of online news and opinion service The Huffington Post has meant the website could forge new partnerships and expand into foreign markets it wouldn't have been able to do on its own, founder Arianna Huffington told CNBC.

"When we were acquired by AOL, the Huffington Post had no international editions so this is a huge growth and to be followed at the end of January by HuffPost Brazil, and by the end of February HuffPost Korea then India and Greece. We are now looking at expanding in the Middle East and Russia so the story is one of phenomenal growth," Huffington told CNBC in an interview broadcast Friday.

Following its purchase in 2011, AOL invested heavily into Huffington Post – but three years on, there have been qualms over whether the HuffPost is yet proving profitable for the media giant.

Huffington insisted that the Huffington Post had "exceeded expectations" since the acquisition, telling CNBC that it had 94 million unique visitors (or UVs, the amount of people visiting a website within a specified period of time) according to the latest comScore data, "tripling where we were at the acquisition, and over 40 percent of those UVs are from a global audience."

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The latest global product to be launched by The Huffington Post is The World Post, which will be launched at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland next week and is a partnership with the influential Berggruen Institute on Governance, founded by investor Nicholas Berggruen. The World Post would form part of the World section of the Huffington Post

"We wanted to be able to create a hub for global conversation, both on issues of governance but also on issues that are preoccupying us right now including work-life balance, burnout, healthcare or youth unemployment, plus the arts and scientific discovery," Huffington told CNBC Friday.

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Contributors to the site are set include high-profile figures like Bill Gates and Tony Blair alongside articles from a range of journalists and writers. Huffington insisted there was "no hierarchy", however.

"We want to have some of the world's most powerful and influential voices alongside students and young people in Europe who are unemployed but who are really smart and have a lot to contribute."

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt.

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