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AOL mulls major restructuring

Report suggests big changes in the pipeline

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There's yet more speculation about the future of AOL following a report which suggests that the giant Internet outfit is mulling plans for major restructuring.

According to the FT, AOL is planning to split its reporting lines within the business in a move that would make the company's operation more transparent.

This would single out, for example, AOL's declining narrowband business compared to its broadband operation. There's even talk that AOL's international operations could also be more clearly defined.

At the moment, for example, AOL doesn't break down European operation by country, so there's no way of telling how its individual businesses are performing, except for what snippets the company is prepared to divulge.

But according to the FT all that could change. Question is, though, why? Well, one explanation is that this greater transparency would give analysts and shareholders a better view of how the businesses are performing.

More interestingly, it could also be prelude for flogging or spinning off parts of the business. For if the different businesses are clearly separated it would be easier for potential buyers/investors to see what's what.

Anyhow, there's been a flurry of speculation about the future of AOL recently. Earlier this month one report suggested that Time Warner's banker, Goldman Sachs, was working on a series of proposals concerning the future of AOL.

Options included flogging the business, floating it or engaging in a "significant restructuring". This was followed by speculation that AOL has been talking to Microsoft about a possible sale, something denied by both parties. ®

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