Time Warner denies reports of AOL sale

Time Warner has denied reports that it is negotiating the sale of its struggling America Online unit to Microsoft.

Time Warner has denied reports that it is negotiating the sale of its struggling America Online unit to Microsoft.

A spokeswoman for Microsoft said the company had no comment, citing a "strict" Microsoft policy of not commenting on rumours of possible deals. "If there was something to announce, Microsoft would announce it," she said.

Quoting anonymous sources, an article in the New York Post stated that Time Warner executives have, in recent months, discussed the possibility of selling AOL to Microsoft.

The story also stated that Time Warner lawyers have begun studying possible antitrust roadblocks to a Microsoft acquisition of AOL.

In its 2003 financial year, AOL reported drops in subscribers and revenue and suffered the ignominy of seeing its acronym dropped from the parent company's name.

AOL is also the focus of investigations from the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Department of Justice related to past accounting and disclosure practices.

As of 31 December 2003, AOL had about 24.3 million members in the US and 6.4 million members in Europe. Subscribers to AOL's core service receive dial-up internet access and a set of proprietary content and services for a monthly fee. AOL offers other service packages and internet access options.

Time Warner's other divisions include filmed entertainment, cable and publishing.

Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG News Service

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