Parsons: IPO's Still on Track

AOL Time Warner Inc. chairman and CEO Richard Parsons said last week that a planned IPO of the conglomerate's Time Warner Cable unit is on track for the second quarter, and added that the company could also unload between $2 billion and $4 billion of assets.

Speaking at the Bear Stearns Media Entertainment & Information conference in Palm Beach, Fla., last Tuesday, Parsons said he expected the unwinding of the company's Time Warner Entertainment L.P. partnership with Comcast Corp. to be finished by the end of the month.

As part of the TWE agreement, Comcast would receive 21 percent of a Time Warner Cable initial public offering, or IPO.

Once that restructuring agreement is closed, Parsons added, the cable IPO could begin in the second quarter or by summer at the latest.

The Time Warner Cable IPO could raise as much as $4 billion, most of which would go toward paring down AOL Time Warner's $26 billion debt.

In its fourth-quarter conference call with analysts, AOL Time Warner outlined a plan to reduce that debt to $20 billion by the end of 2004, including the sale of non-core assets. At the Bear Stearns conference, Parsons said that the company could raise between $2 billion and $4 billion through asset sales.

AOL Time Warner is expected to sell its book division, its four professional sports teams in Atlanta and its interests in the Court TV and Comedy Central cable channels.