By: Matthew Doman

Companies Hope Deal Is Concluded By Dec. 31

(The Hollywood Reporter) America Online Inc. and Time Warner Inc.
insisted Wednesday that their $110 billion merger was on track to
close by the end of the year or early next month as speculation
arose that the FCC might delay its expected approval.

The companies said such speculation is without merit. “Consistent
with what [we] have said in the past, [our] merger will close at
the end of the year or in the very early days of January,” the
companies said in a statement.

FCC chairman Bill Kennard has said he hopes his agency will
conclude its deliberations by the end of the year. But earlier
this week, the FCC used the less specific phrase “as soon as
possible” in a letter to AOL and Time Warner.

With financial markets plummeting in one of the weakest sessions
on Wall Street in months, AOL and Time Warner shares fell more
than most, shedding 9% and 10%, respectively.

Separately, AOL warned regulators that their failure to approve
the merger by Dec. 31 would cause the company to incur a
“substantial burden and costs” in filing more than 10,000 state
and local 2001 tax returns and Securities and Exchange Commission
documents for both companies, which would happen even if the
companies are separate entities for only a few days of the new

AOL telecommunications policy vice president Steven Teplitz told
FCC staff this week that the company had a “strong interest in a
prompt conclusion to these proceedings to avoid the substantial
burden and expense of closing the proposed merger after the end
of this year.”

AOL sources said such costs would not be material to the
companies’ balance sheets but would reflect additional
administrative burdens.

Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher.

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