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Parsons: Would consider AOL spinoff
Fortune: TimeWarner CEO would consider a spinoff if the Web division's 'portal' concept disappoints.
May 17, 2005: 8:31 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons said he'd consider spinning off AOL as a separate stock if the division's latest strategy doesn't pan out, according to the latest issue of Fortune magazine.

At issue is AOL's latest focus on generating advertising revenue as the division loses subscribers to its dial-up service. The goal is to launch a free "portal" Web site with search capabilities, music, e-mail and content that is currently available only to AOL subscribers, and then sell advertising against those features.

"If (the portal strategy) works, this business looks like our publishing business, it looks like our TV business, it looks like our local cable advertising business," Parsons told Fortune. "If this doesn't work, then you start to think about AOL much differently. You start to think about AOL in somewhat the same way I think about the cable company...it would have its own currency to go out and do acquisitions or other deals."

Parsons and other top Time Warner managers stressed in Fortune that there still are synergies among the many divisions and that AOL helps the overall business. In addition, in the event of a spinoff, the article said that Time Warner would probably keep a controlling stake.

The article said Parsons had no specific timetable in mind.

TimeWarner (Research) and AOL merged in 2001 to create AOL TimeWarner. AOL was subsequently dropped from the company name.

Time Warner is also the parent of CNN/Money.

Fortune: Will Wall Street Ever Trust Time Warner?  Top of page

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