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Time Warner CEO Sees Firm as a Major Internet Force

April 15, 1999|ELIZABETH JENSEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — Time Warner Inc. has what it takes to be a big Internet player and doesn't need to sell a stake in its Net holdings to get those assets recognized by Wall Street, Chief Executive Gerald M. Levin said Wednesday.

Levin downplayed the possibility of the company spinning off a piece of its Internet holdings, as many other companies are doing, to try to cash in on the stock market's enthusiasm for anything online: "I'm not ruling out some public piece of paper, but there's no compulsion to do that." He later added during a briefing with reporters on first-quarter earnings, "I believe if you want to play the Internet, you ought to be buying Time Warner stock."

Time Warner--whose holdings include cable networks and cable systems, movie and television production, magazines and music--doesn't need to make any major online acquisitions because it already has many of the assets needed for strength, including strong content, promotional ability and distribution, Levin said. Other companies, he added, have realized that and are approaching Time Warner about possible partnerships.

Levin said Time Warner will move increasingly to aggregate its Internet content offerings under five "hubs" that correspond to its diverse media holdings.

Those hubs--which will share infrastructure features such as commerce, search engines and e-mail--are business, news, female-oriented lifestyle issues, sports and entertainment. Thus, a consumer drawn to the Internet while watching the company's CNN cable network could easily find information from sister publications Fortune or Money, as well as a central place to check a personal portfolio or buy stocks.

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