Now that Time Warner (TWX) is prepared to split AOL’s dialup business away from its advertising and content business, does Jeff Bewkes have a potential buyer in Liberty Media’s John Malone?
Probably. During Liberty’s (LINTA) earnings call Monday, Malone said he’d be open to discussing a deal to swap his stake in Time Warner (TWX) for AOL’s declining — but cash-generating — dialup business, Reuters’ Ken Li reports.
“Clearly an exit from the Time Warner equity state into a cash-generating asset would be attractive, but at the current time, none have been proposed that we could take action on,” Malone said on a conference call on quarterly results.
“But we would continue to try and maintain the relationship with Jeff and the Time Warner folks in the event that such a transaction would present itself,” he said, referring to Time Warner Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes.
In May, Citigroup’s Jason Bazinet pitched the tie-up, predicting a “40% chance” that Liberty would end up taking AOL’s dialup business off Time Warner’s hands.
What doesn’t a Liberty-AOL deal do? Move along consolidation in the dialup biz — though United Online (UNTD), EarthLink (ELNK), and Microsoft’s (MSFT) MSN are ripe for the taking if Malone wants a side deal or a rollup.
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