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Steve Case: 'Undo' AOL-Time Warner Merger

AOL co-founder Steve Case, who played an instrumental role in merging the online company into Time Warner, now says he wants to "undo" the merger, which cost Time Warner shareholders billions of dollars.

"Although I played a key role in bringing AOL and Time Warner together six years ago," Case wrote Sunday, "it's now my view that it would be best to 'undo' the merger by splitting Time Warner into several independent companies and allowing AOL to set off on its own path." His comments were made in an essay in The Washington Post.

Case's comments, which also included criticisms of Time Warner management, came as the firm continued negotiations with Microsoft and Google over possible partnerships with the AOL unit. The negotiations, which are said to involve Microsoft using its search engine, are being carried out as Wall Street financier Carl Icahn continues to blast Time Warner management, too. Although Icahn and Case promote similar agendas for AOL, Case said the two haven't been in touch. Both men are substantial stockholders in Time Warner.

In his essay, Case noted that the AOL-Time Warner "merger of the century" quickly became "the worst merger in history." Case said most criticism of the merger has focused on its failure to yield expected benefits to Time Warner. "It is worth noting that the combination has not helped AOL much either," he wrote.

As for Time Warner's current management team, its members have said they are focused on their own plan for improving shareholder value. Goggle currently provides search capability to AOL. An AOL-Microsoft deal, however, could result in AOL dropping Google. For its part, Google said it intends to continue to work closely and successfully with AOL.