Private Equity Inquired About AOL

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Time Warner Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Parsons said several private equity firms have approached him about selling AOL although the company remains focused on its new strategy.

He did not name the firms in a CNBC interview Thursday.

“I can’t even go to the local hardware store. … That some private equity guy doesn’t jump out from behind the bin with some proposal. But we like the construction of this company,” he said of AOL.

In September, AOL began offering its services free, shifting from a subscription model to one supported by advertising to compete with Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo Inc.

However, when asked whether Parsons would rule out selling AOL: “I would never categorically rule out anything,” the executive said, adding, “Ultimately, our obligation is to manage this portfolio of assets for the benefit of our shareholders.”

As AOL continues its growth plans, New York-based Time Warner has been pruning the company’s portfolio, retaining parts of its magazine business that have an extended life online.

“I like the magazine business, I like the publishing business. We’re there to stay,” Parsons said.

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