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FTC’S AOL-TW DECISION EXPECTED NEXT WEEK

Companies Have Made Their Final Offer, Regulators Have Made Their Final Harrumph
America Online and Time Warner have made their final offer to U.S. regulators in hopes of receiving approval for their planned merger, according to published reports.

Antitrust authorities are expected to make their final decision on the merger before the end of next week, perhaps as early as Thursday (12/14).

AOL and Time Warner told the Federal Trade Commission that they would make no further concessions beyond what they have offered, The Washington Post reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

In other merger news, AOL and TW plan to give stock options to all 85,000 employees shortly after their merger is completed.

While the precise size of the one-time grant hasn't been worked out, it is unlikely to be more than a couple of hundred options for most employees. Senior executives would get much more, possibly in the millions for top executives such as Chairman Steve Case and CEO Gerald Levin, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"We believe in and are developing a broad-based equity plan so that all our people can participate in a stock-option program that will enable them to share in the growth potential of the company," said TW spokesman Edward Adler.

The combined AOLTW will have 4.1 billion shares outstanding, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, although Wall Street analysts estimate the number will be closer to 5 billion when conversion of existing options is included, the Journal said.

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