Time Warner denies reports of AOL sale to Microsoft

Time Warner has not engaged in any talks with Microsoft Corp. about selling its struggling America Online (AOL) unit to the giant software vendor, a Time Warner spokeswoman said last Friday, contradicting a New York Post story.

"The New York Post report is inaccurate. It isn't true," said Tricia Primrose, a Time Warner spokeswoman.

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

Quoting anonymous sources, the newspaper article states that Time Warner executives have in recent months discussed with Microsoft the possibility of selling AOL to the Redmond, Washington, software vendor.

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

In fiscal year 2003, 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 ongoing investigations from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice related to past accounting and disclosure practices.

As of Dec. 31, 2003, AOL had about 24.3 million members in the U.S. 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.

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Juan Carlos Perez

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