In response to my post on this subject, there was the concern about the source of the report, and the fallout, if any, to MSFT shareholders. My reply follows:
"Microsoft shareholders would not be upset because it would almost certainly be an outright cash purchase, without any new issuance of shares.
You're right about the 50% figure. However, you are making the assumption that the bureaucrats/Eurocrats in the government departments involved would see it as that.
They are going to see MSFT, and AOL, and start filing lawsuits.
They might have a case as you, I, and the general public would see Microsoft, while being only a 50-50 partner, as having operational control.
It is this operational control that might bother them, despite the fact that AOL has been losing customers to broadband for the past few years.
A Microsoft purchase would save AOL, stanch the current bleeding, and, coupled with the recent flood of innovations coming out of the MSN team, actually reverse the flow.
Also the combo would be formidable in terms of setting web standards; which might be another concern, especially to the playa’ haters. And such a team would be a Playa', with a Capital 'P'.
For Time Warner, the sale would let it escape the scorn it has been getting since the start of the AOL-Time Warner merger debacle. It would also receive some cash to mollify shareholders, and be able to tell Carl Ichan that there are moves afoot to enhance shareholder value without the sale/IPO of Time Warner Cable.
It looks to be a win-win situation if the governmental review agencies don’t meddle."