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AOL TW posts record $99bn loss

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AOL Time Warner lost a stonking $99bn last year. Still there's no need to be glum. The giant media and Internet may have lost loads of cash, but at least it earned something - a place in the history books as the company that notched up the biggest loss in US corporate history.

Half of the loss came with $45.5bn charge in Q4 to write down the value of its Internet outfit AOL.

No doubt the numbers will further entrench the views of those who believe that the AOL Time Warner union is a marriage made in hell and which should end in divorce.

Looking at the numbers for the AOL Internet business, EBITDA (earnings before interest etc) for Q4 fell 11 per cent to $474m on revenues that dipped 6 per cent to $2.3bn.

For the full year, EBITDA dropped by 22 per cent to $1.8bn on lower revenues of $9bn.

The Internet operation attracted two million new subscribers in 2002 taking its global membership 35.2m.

However, the 16 per cent growth in AOL's subscription revenues (made up of new members and price hikes in the US and Europe) was more than offset by a 39 per cent fall in most other revenue streams including advertising and commerce.

At group level, chief exec Dick Parsons, said that reducing debt for AOL Time Warner was a key priority for 2003 with the aim of getting the overdraft down to around $20bn by the end of 2004.

Looking ahead for 2003, AOL Time Warner expects single-digit full-year revenue growth with EBITDA remaining essentially flat.

Oh, and vice chairman Ted Turner also said he was stepping down from the company.

Earlier this month Dick Parsons was named as the new chairman of the giant media and Internet company following Steve Case's to decision to quit. ®

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