Time Warner buys back AOL stake from Google

Time Warner buys back AOL stake from Google San Francisco: Time Warner Inc bought back Google Inc's 5 percent stake in struggling Internet company AOL LLC for USD 283 million, according to a regulatory filing by AOL on Monday.

The price paid on July 8 is close to what Google estimated its stake at earlier this year.

Mountain View-based Google bought the stake for USD 1 billion in 2006, but in January estimated the investment had sunk by more than 70 percent to USD 274 million — giving AOL a market value of about USD 5.5 billion. Time Warner agreed to buy back the stake earlier this year.

The price at which New York-based Time Warner bought back the stake values AOL at less USD 5.66 billion when excluding a cash distribution of unspecified size that was included in the total price.

The repurchase sets the stage for AOL's impending spinoff from parent Time Warner, which was announced May and is expected to occur later this year. AOL bought the media company in 2001 when its legacy dial-up Internet access business was still extremely popular. That business has been declining for years, and a newer focus on making money from online advertising is not yet picking up the slack.

The filing also gave a slightly more detailed picture of AOL's finances, showing that the business posted a loss of USD 1.53 billion in 2008 and a profit of USD 82.7 million in the first quarter of 2009 — down 48 percent from USD 159.7 million in the year-ago quarter. The company's total equity as of March 31 was USD 3.49 billion.

A spokesman for Time Warner and a spokeswoman for AOL said the companies had no comment.

Bureau Report