January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

AOL-Wal-Mart Pact Nears

After weeks of rumors, (www.wal-mart.com) Wal-Mart and (www.aol.com) America Online are reportedly close to inking a cross-marketing deal under which AOL will promote its online services in Wal-Mart stores in exchange for driving traffic to the discounter's Web store. The broad pact probably likely will involve placing Internet kiosks at Wal-Mart stores, as well as AOL's help in relaunching the Wal-Mart site next month.

The deal stands to buff up AOL's image, since it recently lost out to Microsoft in a similar deal with Tandy Corp.'s Radio Shack stores.

Wal-Mart operates more than 3,500 stores and has about 100 million shoppers per week, while AOL has 20 million subscribers. Neither company would comment on pending agreements.

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