Google's stake in AOL could lead to IPO in 2008

MUMBAI: The Google - AOL stake deal hints at the possibility of an AOL initial public offering in 2008, according to a regulatory filing.

The deal, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2006, gives Google the potential right to require an IPO for America Online in 2008, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Google will have the right to sell its new 5 per cent stake in America Online as soon as 1 July 2008, according to the filing. The filings say that starting two and a half years into the five-year agreement, Google will have the right to force Time Warner to register its shares in AOL with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This would allow Google to sell the shares on the public market. Time Warner has the option to buy the shares back for cash or Time Warner shares at an appraised value.

Google spokeswoman Lynn Fox said: "In private equity investments it is common to have a set of investor rights similar to the ones we have. This does not mean that there is intent to exercise the rights." Time Warner spokesman Edward I. Adler described the term as a "standard clause" of such investments.

Google announced this week its decision to invest $1 billion for a 5 per cent stake in Time Warner Inc.'s AOL and expand the online advertising partnership between the companies.


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