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Google can sell AOL stake by 2008
Report: Search engine can force Time Warner to register AOL shares, but will a sale or IPO follow?
December 24, 2005: 6:33 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Google will have the right to sell its new 5 percent stake in America Online as soon as mid-2008, a news report said Saturday.

The New York Times, quoting filings by both Google and AOL parent Time Warner (Research), reported that 2-1/2 years into their new five-year agreement, Google will have the right to force Time Warner to register its shares in AOL with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

That would allow Google (Research) to sell the shares on the public market. Time Warner has the option to buy the shares back for cash or Time Warner shares at an appraised value, the report said.

The companies on Tuesday said Google would buy the 5 percent stake in AOL for $1 billion. The move was billed as a vote of confidence in AOL's plans to overhaul itself from a shrinking provider of dial-up Internet access into a series of advertising-supported Web sites.

The Times quoted Time Warner spokesman Ed Adler as saying the term was a "standard clause" of such investments, noting that Comcast, which owns a stake in Time Warner Cable, has the right to force Time Warner to register those shares.

Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons said Google's investment neither encouraged nor discouraged selling a stake in AOL to the public in the future, the report said.

CNNMoney, like AOL, is a unit of New York-based Time Warner, the world's largest media company.  Top of page

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