Yesterday's Wall Street Journal singled out the usual suspects. EarthLink
The article claims that the internal work required to split up the two online divisions could be announced as early as tomorrow. Then it's simply a matter of letting the bidding -- or awkward silence, punctuated by chirping crickets -- begin.
Would anyone other than EarthLink really be interested in AOL's fading dial-up service? Juno and NetZero parent United Online
Time Warner had better hurry before it runs out of members to hand over. AOL usage peaked in the third quarter of 2002, when America Online's "Welcome" greeted 26.7 million paying customers. Today, just 8.7 million people pay for AOL accounts. If AOL can't quickly hand off this hot potato to EarthLink, just imagine the fire-sale prices it will have to settle for in the private equity market.
Time Warner should have better luck on the content side, with Microsoft the most likely suitor. Mr. Softy needs to grow its traffic quickly if it wants to battle Google
Why drag this out, when we already know where AOL's pieces will go? Ask EarthLink to hand over its best offer for the access side. Ask Microsoft to IM over its best offer for the new-media properties. Let's land this deal before it becomes the one that got away.
Other access stories to access:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders if there is more to be had between AOL's "Welcome" and its "Goodbye." He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy, and it's got mail.