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AOL Co-Founder Offers Merger Apology

AOL co-founder Steve Case has offered a qualified apology for his role in architecting the online company's disastrous combination with Time Warner Inc. "Yes, I'm sorry I did it," Case said on PBS's "The Charlie Rose Show" last Friday.

But Case also reiterated his belief that it was a good idea at the time.

"It has been a disappointment, but you know, it goes back to the question, `Was it a good idea?'" Case said, according to a transcript provided by the show. "I think it was a good idea. I'm disappointed and frustrated that it hasn't developed in the way that that we all hoped at the time it could."

Time Warner's agreement to be bought by AOL at the height of the Internet bubble in early 2000 resulted in years of turmoil, including shareholder lawsuits, regulatory investigations into AOL's accounting practices, a plunge in the company's share price and a management purge. Since then, Time Warner has changed its name from AOL Time Warner Inc. to just Time Warner Inc.

AOL's fortunes are on the upswing thanks to its recent strategy of shifting to an advertising-driven business instead of providing Internet access. But Time Warner stock prices are now hovering near its 52-week low as the company, and Time Warner is considering making even more of AOL's services free to boost advertising.

Case resigned from Time Warner's board in October and relinquished his role as chairman two years ago.

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