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Board to get AOL update: Report
Newspaper says the Time Warner board will be briefed Thursday on talks to sell part of online unit.
October 27, 2005: 9:52 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Time Warner's board of directors is set to get an update Thursday on talks about selling a stake in its American Online unit, but a decision about which way to go with the Internet operation is still at least weeks away, according to a published report.

The Financial Times quotes an unnamed person briefed on the AOL discussions as saying there are "robust" discussions going on with both Microsoft (Research) and Google (Research) about a possible deal with Time Warner (Research). The source said that while other companies, including Yahoo! (Research), have expressed interest in AOL, serious discussions are taking place with only Microsoft and Google at this point.

"But any decision to pursue a deal with one or the other is something that, at this stage, will not be decided for a few more weeks," the paper quoted the source as saying.

The Time Warner board is set to hold a two-day meeting Thursday and Friday.

Time Warner spokesman Ed Adler told CNN/Money the company had no comment on the FT report or on the board's agenda. CNN/Money is also a unit of Time Warner, the world's largest media conglomerate.

Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons has said he believes that AOL provides the greatest opportunity for unlocking shareholder value and should be retained as part of the company.

After years of being seen as a drag on the company's stock price, AOL has recently attracted a great deal of interest from other companies due to recent growth in online advertising revenue.

Time Warner management is under pressure from financier Carl Icahn, who is leading a group of investors who have about a 2.6 percent stake in the company. The group is pressing for Time Warner to sell all of its Time Warner Cable unit, rather than just the planned minority stake in the nation's No. 2 cable operator, and to increase its share buyback plans.

Icahn has been critical of the 2001 merger that brought together AOL and the so-called "old media" properties of Time Warner, such as publishing, television networks and movie studios.

But Icahn also denounced what he calls a "fire sale" of other assets in recent years, and in a letter to shareholders earlier this month Icahn said he also believes that "opportunities are now available to enhance value at AOL," and criticized Time Warner management for not doing enough to tap into its value.


For more on the recent interest in AOL from other companies, click here.  Top of page

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