AOL Time Warner is playing down fresh speculation it may spin off its ailing America Online internet unit.

In a new twist to old rumours, the New York Times this week reported that the media mammoth’s former chairman Steve Case – the man many regard [blame?] as the mastermind behind the merger between AOL and Time Warner – now favours a demerger.

Case has reportedly told senior company officials in private that he believes the struggling internet unit should now be spun off – in stark contrast to his repeated public defence of the merger.

What Case does or does not believe may, however, be of little importance. Although he is still on the AOL TW board, his influence has waned since he resigned from the post of chairman in January [WAMN: 13-Jan-03].

The official line from AOL TW, meanwhile, is that its priority is to “turn around AOL and put it on a growth track.” The web arm will continue to follow the turnaround plan devised late last year [WAMN: 05-Dec-03].

Data sourced from: MediaWeek (US); additional content by WARC staff