Citigroup analyst Jason Bazinet has found a buyer for AOL’s evaporating but money-making dial-up access business: He says (via Barron’s Eric Savitz) there’s a “40% chance” that John Malone’s Liberty Capital will take the unit of Jeff Bewkes’ hands. Jason figures that AOL is generating an EBITDA margin of 25% to 40% on the business. So that at a 4x multiple, it would go for $2.7 billion to $4.4 billion.
Those estimates sound reasonable to us. But as we reported earlier this week, we’re not sure that Time Warner (TWX) wants to sell the access business to anyone, period. How about the entire unit? For what it’s worth, Bewkes told Kara Swisher this week that he has no intention of parting with AOL.
Update: Even as we were writing this post, Jeff took time to pee on our earlier report at the Bernstein conference — he insists that he’s still selling off access. PaidContent:
As they’ve said multiple times, Bewkes insists that selling off the AOL access business still the plan. Bewkes was asked about an unspecified report (almost certainly this one from SAI) suggesting that the company might change its mind on selling the unit. After deriding it as a report on a mere “blog”, Bewkes joked: “Gee I wonder if it’s true.” He then firmly stated that they’re sticking with the plan. So that’s the official line on that for now. In the meantime, AOL access is a profitable business that’s not declining as fast as they expected.
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