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“It has been a stunning ride…What will I do now?... I now close my business career and fade away.”
——Levin

AOLTW CHIEF SAYS GOODBYE

AOLTW Stockholders say a lot more

AOL Time Warner Inc. chief Gerald Levin said goodbye to the world’s largest media conglom yesterday, ending his 10-year reign at the company. At the annual shareholder meeting yesterday at the company-owned Apollo Theater, Levin passed the torch to Chief Executive Richard Parsons.

In addition to last words from Levin, the meeting included a tirade of some angry investors. As the L.A. Times reports, a number of shareholders feel Levin undersold the Time Warner assets to the "overvalued" Internet co. And even an AOLTW executive said the company was prepared for Levin to be booed off the stage after his brief departure speech.

Fortunately, the Sandman, known for hooking acts off the famous Apollo stage and the infamous harsh Apollo crowd weren’t there. Instead, after sparse applause, a few supporters, including guest Rev. Jesse Jackson, led a standing ovation when Levin ended his emotional farewell asking investors to have "faith, hope and above all, patience."

Still, investors had their say. A number of furious shareholders lined up at microphones and faulted AOLTW Chairman Steve Case and Parsons for poor Internet service, disappointing stock price and bad management and excesses.

Though shareholders expressed disappointments, they were upbeat about expectations and Parson’s five goals to get the company back on track—something we like to refer to as the RRGSR plan: Revitalize the company, restore credibility with investors, guard the integrity of the balance sheet, simplify the corporate structure and re-energize the people who work at the company.

Analysts say that AOLTW's biggest issue right now is restoring credibility on Wall Street. In its first quarter earlier this year, the company reported $54 billion in losses related to the merger. And its stock has taken a steady drubbing in recent months. In May, its shares were around $19, having dropped 70% of their value since the time of the merger.

Of it all and of his future plans, Levin said, "It has been a stunning ride…What will I do now?... I now close my business career and fade away."

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