Sunday, February 03, 2008

Possible Yahoo Sale Puts Focus On AOL

Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo on Friday revived debate about AOL's plan to remake itself as an online advertising company and whether it might too become a target for acquisition.

AOL has been on a tear assembling an advertising network called Platform A that is meant to be the basis for the company's future growth. At the same time, discussions have surfaced occasionally at AOL's corporate parent, Time Warner, over whether the subsidiary should be spun out in part or whole.

In November, new Time Warner chief executive Jeffrey Bewkes said he would consider selling parts of the company to enhance its "strategic advantage." Time Warner's stock has lagged for years as its merger with AOL in 2001 failed to live up to its promise.

Among those that could take an interest in AOL include Google, which already owns 5 percent of the Internet giant and is in the process of buying online ad business DoubleClick. This weekend, Google made clear its concern about the Microsoft-Yahoo deal as it said that the bid "raises troubling questions" for "openness and innovation" on the Web. Another possible suitor for AOL is Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which has shown its willingness to go after big enterprises by buying such businesses as MySpace and Dow Jones.

Yet analysts were skeptical that a sale was in the cards. Read More>>