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Google Sells 5% AOL Stake To Time Warner

The search giant is taking a $717 million loss on the $1 billion it paid in 2005 for the share.

Google has sold its once-coveted 5% stake in AOL to Time Warner for $283 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made public this week, taking a $717 million loss on the $1 billion Google paid for the AOL share in 2005.

The transaction was completed earlier this month and reported in the SEC filing, which also disclosed additional details on AOL's finances. The Time Warner unit had a loss of $1.53 billion in 2008, but reported a profit of nearly $83 million in the first quarter of 2009.

AOL has been in a downward spiral that began shortly after its $182 billion acquisition by Time Warner in 2000. This month's Google transaction places a $5.5 billion valuation on AOL, but varying costs, services, and products make it difficult to calculate the value of AOL with precision.

AOL has hired former Google executive Tim Armstrong to lead the company after it is severed from Time Warner later this year. In recent weeks Armstrong has been visiting AOL facilities in an effort to boost morale and to mine the company for successful services and operations, such as its successful instant messaging service.

When Google bought its AOL stake in 2005, it had to beat Microsoft, which was also aggressively bidding for the 5% piece of AOL. At the time, Google became only the second stakeholder in AOL, after Time Warner, and the deal seemed to prophesy a successful online advertising partnership. But AOL, which had built its empire on dial-up connections, continued to fade and its content didn't appeal to most consumers.

Armstrong has said he wants to beef up AOL's content.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Google's upcoming Chrome OS. Download the report here (registration required).

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