Exiting Vice-Chairman Unloads $789m of AOL TW Shares

06 May 2003

Ever the maverick, Ted Turner, CNN founder and outgoing vice-chairman of AOL Time Warner, sold sixty million shares in the ailing media mammoth in an after-hours deal Monday evening.

The shares, worth $789 million (€697.44m; £490.7m) at yesterday’s value represent more than half Turner’s holding in AOL TW, reducing his overall stake from around 2.3% to one percent. In an emollient statement, AOL said the disposal was part of Turner’s “ongoing financial diversification plan”.

Turner, whose CNN cable network was acquired by Time Warner in 1995, has been a vocal critic of the planet’s largest media group since it merged with AOL in January 2001. A boardroom eminence gris, he is known to have been active in prompting the resignations of former group ceo Gerald Levin and chairman Steve Case.

Not known for silent stoicism, Turner has complained loudly and publicly over the past two years at the dive in his net worth as AOL TW stock continued its journey to the center of the earth.

He also recently became an official resident of Florida – a state of the union that not only enjoys constant sunshine but zilch income tax. Doubtless a comfort to the former radical who is now the USA’s largest private landowner

Turner could not be reached for comment about his action plan for yesterday’s truckload of dollars. Philanthropy, as well as investment, is among his many interests.

AOL TW, meantime, is scheduled to hold its annual meeting next week at which the departing vice-chairman’s latest exploit is bound to attract comment, even controversy.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff