Time Warner Permits Google To Sell AOL Stake In 2008

Google will be able to sell its newly acquired, hard-won stake in AOL in July of 2008, according to documents filed late last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last week, Time Warner sold Google a 5 percent stake in AOL for $1 billion--shutting out Google rival Microsoft, which also had vied for a piece of AOL. The papers filed last week state that Google will have the right to sell its shares--either to Time Warner or, if Time Warner refuses, at an initial public offering.

The SEC filing also spelled out details of an expanded advertising alliance between Google and AOL. It was known last week that Google in some manner intends to promote AOL's video within Google's video search results, but the papers also state that Google will "fund marketing efforts with third party media outlets to promote agreed-upon AOL properties, events or initiatives that will be sponsored by us."

Google also will assist AOL in optimizing its properties for Google crawlers, so that AOL pages have a better chance of appearing higher in the organic results on certain queries. In its SEC filing, Google stressed that its help wouldn't involve giving AOL any proprietary information about Google's algorithms. "We have agreed to assist AOL and Time Warner in understanding our published and/or publicly available tools for improving the accessibility of a Web site's content to Google's web crawlers," stated Google in its papers.

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