Time Warner considering public Net spinoffs

Media megalopolis Time Warner seems to have had a change of heart at the upper managment level. The company has apparently gone from considering something like Pathfinder - Time's online destination - a financial 'black hole' to considering some of the company's other Internet assets worthy of spinning off into a public company. Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin sparked the speculation by saying of its CNNfn cable-TV operation, 'At some point, there may be opportunities for a public piece of paper.'

Media megalopolis Time Warner seems to have had a change of heart at the upper managment level. The company has apparently gone from considering something like Pathfinder - Time's online destination - a financial "black hole" to considering some of the company's other Internet assets worthy of spinning off into a public company.

Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin sparked the speculation by saying of its CNNfn cable-TV operation, "At some point, there may be opportunities for a public piece of paper."

The public words late last week apparently lead Wall Street Journal reporter Eben Shapiro to make a couple of phone calls. Time Warner CFO Richard Bressler told the paper that nothing is being "actively considered" and that the company was planning to build several "vertical portals" first. Other phone calls to "people inside the company" revealed that CNNfn and cable-modem venture Road Runner were being considered as spin-off properties. A third phone call, to Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen revealed her thought that Time Warner will "contribute its music-retailing assets, which include 50 percent of Columbia House record club, into a 'new music online retailer, thereby creating a publicly traded vehicle'. ..."

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