More fallout from AOL Time Warner
“NYT” report on Gerald Levin’s departure.
“You just lost $54 billion,” an angry shareholder told the executives yesterday, referring to the noncash charge that AOL Time Warner took in the first quarter to account for the company’s plunge in value since the merger. “Where’d that come from?” the accuser continued. “Our pockets — the shareholders — not the options you got.”
Because Mr. Levin is expected to continue as an adviser to the company, analysts and company executives are wary of discussing his legacy on the record. But a recurrent criticism is that Mr. Levin gave away too much of the company when he agreed to merger terms in January 2000 that granted America Online 55 percent of Time Warner for AOL stock — just months before the bursting of the Internet bubble.
No one can predict the future of the stock market, of course. But industry executives also fault Mr. Levin for having overestimated the opportunities for complements between Time Warner’s conventional media holdings and AOL’s Internet business.
“When he sold to AOL, he sold for nothing,” one industry executive said. “It was pretty clear that the great synergies Jerry talked about were unrealistic.”