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Fear Strikes Google

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-10-13

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Comcast and Google will offer Time Warner $5 billion for a minority stake in AOL, which currently provides Google with 11 percent of its revenues.

Once the top brass at Microsoft arrives at work this morning, they will see more reports about the Google-Comcast pairing for a stake in AOL. It will look like the Fear has entered Google's heart.

Those rumored Microsoft and Time Warner discussions, where senior executives apparently have been hammering out a deal, must be more than just rumors. No one is commenting on those talks, and the same goes for the reported Google and Comcast discussions.

Time Warner wants to keep a controlling stake in AOL at this point, and the Microsoft offer was reported to be in the $5 billion range at one time, just like the Google proposal. Now the negotiations get interesting.

Microsoft has a lot of cash, amassed through years of Windows and Office sales. Google reportedly has around $7 billion in spare change laying around the Googleplex. Microsoft can probably find that much stuffed in a single sofa on the Redmond campus, as they have at least four times that much available.

Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons is nobody's fool. His team just has to look across the table and let Microsoft know how it is. $5 billion was yesterday's opening bet. If Microsoft really wants to be part of the joint venture, a little more cash will have to enter the equation.

As long as Time Warner's reach doesn't exceed its grasp, it should be able to earn a modest premium on the AOL venture. Just because Microsoft is capable of overpaying doesn't mean that it will.

It is easy to believe Microsoft will pay a little extra for the privilege of stiff-arming Google while stealing its wallet. And smile while doing so. The forecast for Mountain View looks stormy.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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