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What Holdings Should AOL Sell in New Content Quest?

As AOL prepares for life apart from Time Warner Inc., some observers speculate CEO Tim Armstrong soon will offload some burdensome properties and buy anything affordable that fuels AOL’s move to become a 21st Century content publishing company.

Silicon Alley Insider writers say AOL should be able to raise at least $1 billion in cash if it sells MapQuest; social networking site Bebo; international instant-messaging service ICQ; all international holdings; and Advertising.com. The site also predicts heavy M&A activity from AOL during the first six months of 2010.

Observers say the new AOL needs to include all of the company’s Web sites and the publishing platform, as well as distribution points such as the home page and AIM. AOL also needs to focus on premium ad sales, according to Silicon Alley Insider.

AOL will spin off from parent company Time Warner on Wednesday. Time Warner stockholders will get one share of AOL for each 11 shares of Time Warner they own.

It’s a long-anticipated move that stems from the Time Warner-AOL merger in the early years of the tech boom, a strategy that soon turned into one of the worst disasters in corporate history. As of Dec. 10, AOL will shift its focus from dial-up Internet access to online media content – which it already aggregates from hundreds of sources – and display advertising, as well as unspecified technology, as it tries to secure its share of online marketing money.

The new directions will place more onus on Armstrong, a former Google advertising executive who is working to turn around the once-dominant Internet company’s fortunes. AOL has watched its dial-up subscriptions and advertising revenue plummet for the past two years.

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