Time Warner: What Will It Do With $9.25 Billion In Cash? More Acquisitions On The Way; AOL Talks

With the complete separation of the cable unit, Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) will get a nice $9.25 billion dividend. So what’s the plan for all that cash? According to CEO Jeff Bewkes, speaking on a call with analysts, more acquisitions are in the cards: “Our share of the special dividend will clearly enhance our financial flexibility… we’re looking at all of the usual uses of capital, including returning capital to stockholders, including disciplined acquisitions, and including investing further in our business.” At this point, they’re not getting too specific about where they’ll be buying, though he did acknowledge, in response to a question, that cable networks could be a good area. Form the Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) perspective, the big one-time dividend puts it outside of its target leverage ratio (TANSTAAFL), but the company expects it to maintain investment-grade rating.

Future of AOL: The separation of TWC may have important financial implications, but the fate of AOL remains the big question mark hanging over the company. So what’s the latest thinking on that? They’re still pursuing the sale of its access business; there’s no news on that uncontroversial part. And for the other side of AOL, some of it may depend on how things shake out with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG). Bewkes: “We can acknowledge but not particularly comment on all of the structural moves that some of our competitors are making. We can’t talk about what opportunities might exist for us, in some kind of arrangement… beyond just acknowledging what everyone knows, that those discussions are going on, I can’t really tell you what we’re going to do.”