AOL Inc shares rose nearly 9 percent on Thursday as the Internet company -- long seen as a merger candidate -- confirmed it has an investment banker and a law firm on retainer.

According to Adweek, teams from investment banking firm Allen & Co and law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz met AOL executives on Wednesday. Wachtell Lipton lawyer Martin Lipton and Allen & Co banker Nancy Peretsman attended the meeting, Adweek said.

AOL confirmed both firms were on retainer, but did not say for how long they had been hired. Reuters reported in November that Allen & Co had been hired by AOL along with Bank of America to explore strategic options.

At the time, sources told Reuters those options included a potential merger with Yahoo Inc.

Lipton and Peretsman could not immediately be reached for comment.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told Adweek in an email: There is no deal on the table, no proposed deal, and both parties are on retainer with us and we work with them. Our strategy hasn't changed and we are moving faster than ever on it.

Sources told Reuters in December that AOL has explored a breakup and other options since its December 2009 spinoff from Time Warner Co Inc.

AOL shares closed up 8.8 percent at $13.94 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Michael Erman, Paritosh Bansal, Peter Lauria and Jennifer Saba; editing by Matthew Lewis and Andre Grenon)