AOL-Time Warner Shareholders Approve Merger

Considered to be the largest business deal in history, it will be scrutinized by governmental agencies worldwide.

America Online and Time Warner shareholders gave their thumbs up to the proposed merger of the two media giants on Friday (June 23).

Special shareholder meetings were held in AOL's home in Virginia and Time Warner's headquarters in New York, yielding a nearly unanimous vote to approve the $123 billion deal.

"No media company anywhere in the world can boast of a prouder, richer heritage than ours," Time Warner Chairman Gerald M. Levin said in a statement at the shareholders meeting. "As a result of our merger ... we'll be able to provide the immensely talented women and men of this company with a greater canvas than ever before."

First announced in January, the merger brings together the millions of AOL users to Time Warner's vast network of content providers and cable systems.

AOL's network of brands, in addition to its online service, includes Netscape, Digital City, MovieFone,, Winamp and the newly announced AOL-TV and mobile wireless services.

Time Warner's vast holdings include Time Warner Cable Networks (CNN, Home Box Office, TNT and TBS), Time Warner Music Group (Atlantic, Reprise, Rhino, Maverick and Warner/Chappell Music Publishing), Time Warner Publishing Group (Time, People, Sports Illustrated, and Entertainment Weekly), Time Warner Filmed Entertainment (Warner Bros. Films, New Line Cinema), Time Warner Cable and Roadrunner high-speed online service.

Artists who work under the Warner umbrella include Neil Young, Alanis Morissette, R.E.M. and Madonna — who earlier this year released a cover of Don McLean's '70s hit "American Pie" (RealAudio excerpt).

"Every day since we announced this merger, we are seeing more and more potential for what America Online and Time Warner can achieve together for consumers worldwide," America Online President Steve Case said in a statement at the Virginia meeting.

The deal still faces regulatory review and approval in the United States and overseas.

On June 14, the European Commission — a 20-member regulatory body of the European Union — announced it would conduct a four-month antitrust probe into a separate proposed Time Warner-EMI deal and is expected to raise questions about the Time Warner-AOL merger as well. The Federal Trade Commission and other U.S. regulatory agencies also are looking into whether a merger of content and distribution is healthy for the public.

"It is the largest merger in U.S. history, so it's going to get a lot of scrutiny and attention, particularly because we are a consumer-oriented company," Case said.