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Toshiba considers stake in AOL Time Warner

Japanese electronics group Toshiba is considering taking a stake in AOL Time Warner in an effort to strike a technology agreement with the media and internet behemoth.

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LONDON (Brand Republic) - Japanese electronics group Toshiba is considering taking a stake in AOL Time Warner in an effort to strike a technology agreement with the media and internet behemoth.

Toshiba is said to be in talks with AOL Time Warner about the possibility of distributing the US giant’s content using the Japanese group’s mobile phones.

Toshiba hopes the agreement could extend to DoCoMo AOL, the company created in September when Japanese telecoms carrier NTT DoCoMo took a 42% stake in AOL Japan.

Toshiba currently supplies mobile handsets to Audiovox in the US, but has yet to make headway in Europe and Japan.

Analysts believe that an equity stake in AOL would be a symbolic gesture by Toshiba to cement an operational agreement. Such a deal would also increase sales of the electronics group’s flash memory for its mobile handsets.

Toshiba has held a stake in Time Warner since 1992, although it sold a significant chunk in 1998, retaining just 0.2% of the company.

Meanwhile, US telecoms group AT&T is threatening to sell its 25.5% stake in Time Warner Entertainment, acquired when it took over US cable operator MediaOne, which could effectively break up the recently merged group.

AT&T agreed in December to sell its stake in the AOL Time Warner subsidiary in return for clearance from the US Federal Communications Commission for the takeover.

AOL Time Warner is thought to be the most likely buyer for the stake, but AT&T is understood to be unhappy with its bid, believed to be between $9bn (£6.2bn) and $10bn (£6.9bn).

MediaOne acquired its stake in Time Warner Entertainment in 1993 when the cable group was part of US West, the regional telephone company.



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