AOL-Google Deal: Icahn Intervenes

20 December 2005

Interventionist investor Carl Icahn (69), America's 24th richest citizen with a net worth of $5.8 billion (€4.83bn; £3.29bn), is not happy with the deal struck last weekend between Time Warner's America Online and Google [WAMN: 19-Dec-05].

According to the Wall Street Journal, Icahn has informed TW that he doubts Google "is the best partner" to "unlock the value in AOL" (Icahn-speak for propelling him further up Forbes magazine's Rich List).

Using his customary tactics of shoehorning into an underperforming corporation via a small but strategically potent stake, then dismembering its components parts, Icahn is currently seeking to topple a majority of TW directors.

On Monday in an open letter to the TW board, he reiterated his warning that he will hold its directors legally responsible if they ink any deal that might impede a future AOL merger with - or sale to - another partner.

Icahn's letter, dated Monday, states: "Like all shareholders, I am not opposed to Time Warner entering into an AOL transaction that creates long-term value.

"However, I am deeply concerned that the Time Warner Board may be on the verge of making a disastrous decision concerning an agreement with Google if this agreement would make it more difficult in any way or effectively preclude a merger or other type of transaction with companies such as IAC/InterActive, eBay, Yahoo, or Microsoft etc., etc. ..."

The corporate raider cites a recent Goldman Sachs report that implies a deal with Google (or Microsoft's MSN) might not be the best option for Time Warner.

Among TW's serried ranks of spokesfolk, not one was available for comment.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff