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AOL Valued at Less Than $5.66 Billion on Stake Sale

July 27 (Bloomberg) — AOL, the Internet unit being spun off from Time Warner Inc., may be worth less than $5.66 billion, based on the price Google Inc. received for its 5 percent stake in the company.

Time Warner, based in New York, said in a regulatory filing today it repurchased the stake on July 8 for $283 million, a price that includes cash distributions owed to Google.

AOL, an online pioneer, is worth a fraction of the $20 billion implied when Google paid $1 billion for the stake in 2005. Time Warner said in May it plans to spin off AOL into a separate, publicly traded company this year. The Web service has been hit by competition and falling advertising sales.

Google’s holding fetched less than the $330 million David Joyce, a New York-based analyst with Miller Tabak & Co., estimated on July 20. The Mountain View, California-based company, owner of the biggest search engine, wrote down $726 million of its AOL investment last year.
As part of the 2005 deal, Google agreed to provide Web- search service to AOL and share in the ad revenue the inquiries generated. AOL has agreed to use Google’s search services and sponsored links through at least December 2010, according to the filing.

Ed Adler, a spokesman for Time Warner, declined to comment on AOL’s value. Jane Penner, a spokeswoman for Google, declined to comment beyond the filing.

Time Warner rose 2 cents to $27.60 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Google fell $1.92 to $444.80 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, giving the company a market value of $140.5 billion.

Armstrong’s Plans

AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong told employees last week that job cuts are possible as he undertakes a 60-day review of the Internet company’s cost structure. Armstrong, a former Google executive named AOL CEO in March, also plans to overhaul advertising and develop more local Web sites to help revive falling sales.

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About Nick Wilsdon

Nick Wilsdon works as a Content and Digital Strategy Consultant He manages online campaigns for the UK's leading telecom, finance and FMCG brands.

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