May 18, 2007 / 5:58 PM / 12 years ago

Time Warner to consider stock buyback, other options

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Time Warner Inc.’s chief executive said on Friday the board is considering another stock buyback and other options, but quashed talk of spinning off its flagship Time Inc. publishing business.

Shareholders of the world’s largest media company also approved two proposals that give them more say over company matters, according to preliminary results at the annual shareholders’ meeting in Los Angeles on Friday.

“We’re considering (a buyback) along with some other options but we haven’t made final judgment yet,” CEO Richard Parsons told Reuters ahead of the shareholders meeting.

Time Warner had just finished a $20 billion repurchase program after it completed the transfer of the Atlanta Braves baseball team to Liberty Media this week in exchange for about 68.5 million shares of Time Warner.

The company had boosted the size of its buyback program last year after billionaire investor Carl Icahn agitated for change at the company. The company later agreed to raise its buyback to $20 billion.

Parsons said he was “not an advocate” of spinning off Time Inc., addressing Wall Street speculation.

“I like our publishing business, I like the magazine business and I like the fact that it’s portable and can be moved into digital,” he said. “I am not an advocate of selling Time Inc.”

In recent weeks, Wall Street analysts have speculated on the possibilities of divesting in part or whole the magazine division, seeing it as a rational move following Time Warner’s spin off of a partial stake in Time Warner Cable.

“This is something our board considers periodically,” Parsons said of a company review of its portfolio, which also includes Turner Broadcasting and HBO.

Asked whether AOL would be competitive in the currently frenzied deal-making landscape without its own separately traded stock, Parsons pointed to two small acquisitions this week to help AOL augment its advertising business. “We have the capacity to fund whatever we need to fund,” he said.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Two proposals that give shareholders more power were approved by a majority of holders.

Some 79 percent of votes cast were in favor of approving a measure to adopt a simple majority vote on company matters.

About 64 percent of votes cast were in favor of a proposal to give shareholders owning 10 percent to 25 percent of the outstanding common stock the ability to call a special shareholder meeting.

“Shareholder control over timing is especially important in the context of a major acquisition or restructuring, when events unfold quickly and issues may become moot by the next annual meeting,” according to Time Warner’s proxy detailing the proposal.

All 13 board of directors were re-elected to the board by more than 94 percent of the votes cast, Time Warner said.

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