After December 9th, AOL Time Warner will be AOL, and Time-Warner, two separate, completely unrelated entities. It’s like 1993 all over again!

The story from AllThingsD gives more of the nitty gritty on the move –

AOL will officially be spun off from Time Warner on Dec. 9, with trading to begin the next day.

Shareholders of record at 5 pm ET on Nov. 27 will get one share of AOL for each 11 shares of Time Warner (TWX) on the day of the long-expected spinoff of the Internet service.

At Time Warner’s current market cap of $38 billion, that gives AOL an implied value of $3.2 billion — a fraction of  the $20 billion that Google (GOOG) valued the portal at in 2005, when it invested $1 billion in the property. And that’s even lower than the $5.5 billion valuation Google gave the company last January, when it wrote down its investment.

AOL will trade on the New York Stock Exchange as “AOL.”

Ironically, before it merged with Time Warner at the dawn of the new century, AOL previously traded on the NYSE.

AOL went public on Nasdaq on March 19, 1992, under the ticker “AMER,” and moved to the NYSE on Sept. 16, 1996 trading as “AOL.”

(Fun fact: BoomTown actually attended both the fancy dinner the night before AOL moved to the NYSE from Nasdaq and the AOL party on Wall Street the next day.)

If you want to get really technical, AOL common stock will begin trading on a “when-issued” basis–you really don’t want to know the confusing regulatory details of why–on the NYSE under the symbol “AOL WI” beginning on Nov. 24, 2009.

On Dec. 10, when-issued trading of AOL common stock will end and “regular-way” trading under the symbol “AOL” will begin.

After that, it will be up to CEO Tim Armstrong to make the long-suffering AOL into the little Internet company that could.

The separation of AOL and Time Warner is also symbolic, dismantling the most potent symbol of Web 1.0, when AOL essentially got control of the media giant, only to see the merger crash in disaster.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Here’s the full Time Warner press release on the transaction:

The changes are coming, but what no one is asking is how will AOL fare without the Time-Warner name and money to prop it up. AOL was a monster in the days before the internet, but once the internet became easily reached, there was no reason to visit for many. It was continuing to do well for some time after that, however, because old habits die hard. Also, during the nascent period of big portals, AOL was already established, and was most likely the model for many portals that were built during that time.

Lately, I go to the AOL site very, very infrequently, and I wonder why people still go there daily. I know that many are tied in by their mail accounts, but free mail accounts are easily found, so, unless it is again a case for inertia, I just don’t understand. (I also know that getting a meaningful username for AOL is like pulling teeth; their rules are so narrow.)

Will AOL do something to keep its audience? Will it be satisfied with its current audience? Will AOL wither and die, a relic from the last century, already overdue for euthanasia?


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a great way to access AOL on the internet, if you feel the need