Ohio reaches $144 mil settlement with TW


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio has reached a $144 million settlement with Time Warner Inc. over claims that public employees lost millions after the media conglomerate agreed to be acquired by America Online, the state's attorney general announced Wednesday.

The state sued in 2003 on behalf of five state pension funds and the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation that said they lost $400 million when Time Warner's stock fell dramatically after the 2001 deal.

The settlement is the latest against Time Warner, which has already reached other agreements to resolve claims from investors and regulators that AOL fraudulently inflated its online advertising revenues and subscriber counts.

Last month another large institutional investor, the California State Teachers' Retirement System, reached a $105 million settlement with Time Warner and former AOL executives over similar claims.

AOL's deal to buy Time Warner, which was announced at the height of the Internet bubble in 2000, eventually led to massive write-downs, shareholder lawsuits, regulatory scrutiny and a management purge. The combined company was initially called AOL Time Warner Inc. but later removed AOL from the beginning of its name.

Time Warner spokesman Keith Cocozza said the agreements the company has reached with states that sued it include no admissions of wrongdoing.

"These events related to the AOL/Time Warner merger occurred six or seven years ago. It's something that we've been focused on putting behind us so that we can focus on driving the business forward," he said.