After we reported that Time Warner’s (TWX) board is supposedly meeting tomorrow to finalise plans for an AOL spin-off, a couple commenters came up with an interesting suggestion: Maybe Google-rich Tim Armstrong should find some other investors and take AOL private.
A commenter named Jay rhapsodized about the idea:
That would so very rock! Perhaps Steve Case and Ted Leonsis with some skin in the game as well, and then Prince Alwaleed bin Talal throwing in the balance. Owners that actually care about the company would rock. Being able to buy some time out of the market spotlight while the Access business gasps its last breath would be awesome as well. Then once the shrinking revenue line is gone (and the economy improves) a very nice IPO rewarding the private owners AND all of the employees in a couple of years. Ahhhh what a dream!!!
Oh yeah, and the fact that we wouldn’t have to participate in SOX for a couple of years wouldn’t be half bad. Then, soon as the Access business is gone, likely no more participation in PCI either. All that busy work suddenly off the plate could improve the workload quite a bit as well!
AOL would probably cost about $3 billion to $4 billion, even in a straight buyout, so new investors would have to come up with a lot of cash at a time when credit markets are still very tight. But still, we like the idea. A private AOL could shed both its costly old media trappings and its dial-up business away from the scrutiny of the public markets.