Time Warner sets stage for AOL spinoff

TW asks debt holders to consent to amended terms

NEW YORK -- Time Warner is laying further ground work for a possible spinoff of AOL in the near future.

On Monday, the company said it has started to ask debt holders for their consent to amend terms governing $12.3 billion of its debt.

Importantly, the company said it is asking bond holders to change the terms to allow for the conveyance or transfer by AOL Llc. of its properties and assets. Under its plans, the debt would now be guaranteed by HBO.

TW is offering to pay each bondholder who consents by April 15 $5 for each $1,000 principal amount of debt they hold.

"This is significant because it clears a major hurdle to an AOL spin," Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Michael Nathanson said. "This, along with the recent hiring of Tim Armstrong (as AOL chairman and CEO), suggests that an AOL spin could be announced in the next few months -- a move we would applaud."

A TW spokesman said no decision has been made on the future of AOL.
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