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In Retrospect - Executives on How the AOL-Time Warner Merger Went So Wrong // Facebook, Inc. to purchase News Corp

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Today I'm spending some time learning history.

This is fascinating:

"Over that weekend, Mr. Levin and Mr. Case began notifying more of the executives. Among these were Don Logan, then head of Time Inc., and Ted Leonsis, a division president at AOL. Many executives, including Timothy A. Boggs, then head of government relations at Time Warner, found out about the deal the day of the announcement in an 8 a.m. conference call. (Mr. Boggs is now associate rector at St. Albans Parish in Washington. Mr. Logan owns a minor-league baseball team in Birmingham, Ala., and Mr. Leonsis is an owner of the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards.)

None were pleased with the news.

MR. LOGAN Dumbest idea I had ever heard in my life.

MR. LEONSIS I was one of the loudest advocates for not doing the deal.

MR. BOGGS Just real regret and dread. My job was to make the case for this deal to governments around the world and to get all the regulatory clearances that were needed and to work with our antitrust lawyers to get those clearances to make the case to Congress and the media, to some extent, about this merger, and I was just frankly stunned and a bit knocked back on my heels by the prospect of securing all of those approvals.

I knew and I loved Time Warner. I saw it as a company with a vision and a set of values, and I saw AOL in a much less favorable light, much more opportunistic, made up of folks who were really trying to merely exploit the market they were in as opposed to developing something that was enduring, and I was very leery about this deal."


The Deal Unwinds

Many investors and employees lost millions of dollars, but no one lost more than Ted Turner, who at the time was the largest individual shareholder in the combined company.

MR. TURNER I’d like to forget it. That’s what goes through my mind. I almost didn’t do this interview because I didn’t want to dig it up again. Let it pass into history.

The Time Warner-AOL merger should pass into history like the Vietnam War and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It’s one of the biggest disasters that have occurred to our country.

I lost 80 percent of my worth and subsequently lost my job. We looked it up to see if I was the biggest loser of all time because I lost about $8 billion. But I don’t think I was the biggest loser of all time. I think at one point Microsoft stock went down more than that for Bill Gates. I think he’s the biggest winner and the biggest loser. I was in the top three or four of all time.

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