A Taste of Google

Now that it's official and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) has widened its relationship with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) and sold it a 5% stake in AOL for $1 billion, we can begin to analyze who got the better end of the deal.

While Carl Icahn has been "deeply concerned" about the deal, Google clearly gave AOL the best bang for its virtual buck. As details begin to float to the top, we're learning that Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) offer was strictly a technological partnership with no financial investment. Claims that Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) had offered 20% of its stock for all of AOL, if true, also favor Time Warner siding with Google. The Yahoo! deal would have valued AOL at about $14.5 billion, while Google's investment values AOL as a $20 billion entity.

There have been reports that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) gave it a college try but was ultimately outmaneuvered by Google.

Google had plenty at stake and even more to offer. That's why it found itself perhaps overbidding for AOL despite being the perfect match. Over the next few months we will learn whether Google paid a far bigger price -- terms of the deal include preferential treatment by AOL properties on Google's search results. If Google alienates advertisers or loses some credibility, it would deal a company already priced for perfect execution a damaging blow.

Google is smarter than that. It's certainly smarter than me. It may even be smarter than you. Remember when folks were saying that those who were paying $85 a share for Google at the IPO last year were overpaying? We now know that they got a bargain. Is AOL a bargain at $20 billion? If so, hurry up and take a look at Time Warner. Its shares may not be meandering in the teens much longer.

There are a lot of players in this prolonged soap opera, and many of the stars have newsletter affiliations. Microsoft is a recentInside Valuepick. Time Warner was recommended inMotley Fool Stock Advisorback in 2002.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is proud to be one of the remaining 20.8 million AOL subscribers. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Foolhas a disclosure policy. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.


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