Jeff Bewkes' mind has been doing a lot of yo-yo on AOL (NYSE: TWX) in the last month...only a month ago he was firm on not selling AOL and let Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), Yahoo and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) fight among themselves. Now, speaking at the Bear Stearns media conference, he said he was open to combining AOL with another company, "whatever configuration makes it the strongest and the most valuable," reports NYT. He acknowledged a weakness in the business, and of course, the unsaid part, the management troubles at AOL and its ad unit Platform-A. He didn't comment on whether AOL was having any merger talks with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). He did say that a combined Microsoft-Yahoo would "verify the value" of AOL's ad platform, which of course is baloney.
Also, he said AOL may spin off it dial-up ISP business, which of course is not a surprise. He indicated that the company wanted to keep AOL.com and Platform A together, saying they complemented each other, reports NYT.
On Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), he said a spinoff or some other restructuring would be better for the cable unit, reports B&C. He said talks have begun between the companies' two boards, saying, "It's just a question of whether the value of it, and even some of the strategic options open to it in terms of investments, scale, a possible combination of the cable footprint with other things, might be more easily accomplished, more easily valued, with a better financial structure and return architecture, if it was a separate piece of paper you owned."
"It's not that we want to be smallerwe have no problem with that...It doesn't matter if Time Warner as a conglomerate of holdings is larger or smallerit just matters if the return on capital is higher."
By Rafat Ali