AOL exercises Google warrants

Joining the IPO profit parade, America Online says in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it has purchased 7.4 million of the search leader's preferred shares.

Google's founders aren't the only ones who'll be riding high after the company's initial public offering.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Time Warner disclosed this week that its America Online unit has purchased 7.4 million preferred shares in the search leader for $22 million, or about $3 a share. The purchase stems from a warrant issued to AOL in 2002 that gave the company the option to buy these shares at that set price.

Google in April filed to go public, in one of the most anticipated stock offerings since the technology bubble burst in 2000. Investors and analysts expect Google to instantly become a multibillion-dollar company, once it goes public. And thanks to its 2002 investment, AOL is expected to get a cash windfall in return.

Google's IPO date has not been set, and estimates of its opening share price continue to vary.

AOL currently has an agreement to run Google's AdWords commercial search links alongside its own search results. Google charges advertisers a fee every time a Web surfer clicks such a link and shares the fee with AOL for links that appear in results hosted by AOL's various services.

The partnership has become lucrative. In 2003, AOL generated $200 million from Google, up from $35 million in 2002.

AOL isn't the only company slated to benefit from Google's IPO. Yahoo also has a minority stake in Google, despite considering it one of its biggest competitors.

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