AOL Time Warner is said to be putting the finishing touches to a deal worth up to $9 billion with AT&T and Comcast to unravel the Time Warner Entertainment cable and content partnership.
As expected, AOL TW will take full control of TWE’s Warner Bros film studio and Home Box Office television channel. It will also gain all of Time Warner Cable, most of which is currently within the partnership.
AT&T will relinquish its stake of around 27% in TWE, receiving a 21% stake in Time Warner Cable plus $2.1bn in cash and $1.5bn in AOL TW shares. Comcast will end up with the proceeds of the deal, as it is in the process of buying AT&T’s cable-TV assets.
AOL TW will organise an IPO for Time Warner Cable, possibly as early as next year. Meanwhile, both the stakes destined for Comcast will be held in trust to avoid regulatory obstacles and will eventually be disposed of, though the timing will likely depend on market conditions.
Under the deal, Comcast is also expected to allow a high-speed version of AOL TW’s America Online Internet service – currently available only on Time Warner Cable – to be sold on its cable systems.
The total cost of the deal to AOL TW is between $8.5bn and $9bn, depending on valuations of various stocks.