DealZone

AOL then and now

July 28, 2009

Anyone want to take a shot at what’s behind Time Warner‘s repurchase of a 5 percent stake in AOL held by Google? Time Warner sold the stake in December 2005 for $1 billion. Now, it has bought it back for $238 million — a nice job of selling high and buying low. Time Warner plans to spin off AOL by the end of the year.

The 2005 deal implied a chunky price tag of $20 billion for AOL. While it may not be exactly apples to apples, the repurchase implies a value of about $5.7 billion.

Brigantine Advisors analyst Colin Gillis said the implied $5.7 billion represents a “floor valuation ” as AOL moves toward a spinoff. If that’s true, then Google not only overpaid, but undersold.

Then again, with AOL expecting about $90 million of restructuring charges in the last nine months of 2009, and $58.3 million in charges already taken, related primarily to layoffs and closing facilities, maybe Google got out cheap.

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