AOL Time Warner denies plot to oust chairman

AOL Time Warner spokeswoman Tricia Primrose has denied reports that company heads may be eyeing chairman Stephen Case as their...

AOL Time Warner spokeswoman Tricia Primrose has denied reports that company heads may be eyeing chairman Stephen Case as their next executive sacrifice. "There is no basis for these rumours. We are not getting rid of Steve Case," she insisted.

It is rumoured that Case, who headed America Online before it merged with Time Warner early last year, could take the fall for AOL's troubles since the merger, which have not only weighed down the company's share price but also piqued the interest of government regulators who suspect questionable accounting practices were used to cover up poor performance.

Several directors may push for his removal as early as tomorrow (Thursday), when the company's board is scheduled to meet in New York. A three-quarters vote of the board is required to remove him as chairman.

Former Time Warner chief executive officer Gerald Levin resigned in January, while company chief operating officer and interim head of AOL Robert Pittman followed in July. Pittman's departure came as part of an overall restructuring of the company that shifted power away from the renegade new-media side and into Time Warner's old-media court.

The reshuffling came after the company experienced a 70% decline in its stock price since the merger, which was pinned on the cold performance of AOL.

The Internet unit attracted government attention after performing a series of suspect deals, which it allegedly used to artificially inflate its advertising business.

Some industry observers believe that with his thorough knowledge of the AOL business, Case may be crucial to restoring the unit's operations. Furthermore, he needs only three votes in addition to his own to stave off a potential coup.

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