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Time Warner CFO to take AOL finance post

America Online taps Time Warner chief financial officer Joseph Ripp to become CFO of the online service once the proposed merger between the two companies closes.

America Online has appointed Time Warner chief financial officer Joseph Ripp to become the CFO of the online service once the proposed merger between the two companies closes.

Thursday's announcement comes after the two companies crossed the latest hurdle in closing their multibillion-dollar merger. On Wednesday, the European Commission approved the proposed union, setting the stage for U.S. regulators to rule on the combination.

The appointment offers a glimpse of how the two companies are coming together. In May, the companies unveiled the organizational structure for AOL Time Warner. AOL chief executive Steve Case will become chairman of the combined company, and Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin will become its CEO.

After the close of the merger, AOL as it exists today will become another operating division in the combined company along with Time Inc., Warner Bros., Turner Broadcasting, HBO, Time Warner Cable and Warner Music Group. Each of these divisions has an established management team that includes a chairman, chief executive and CFO.

AOL Time Warner will oversee the divisions in the same manner that a kingdom oversees its fiefdoms.

Ripp's appointment shifts him from the Time Warner side to the AOL division of the combined company. After the January announcement of the proposed merger, AOL finance chief J. Michael Kelly was tapped to become CFO of the combined company. That left a void for the position at AOL until the appointment of Ripp.

Ripp will report to Barry Schuler, who will become chairman and CEO of AOL once the merger goes through.

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But for AOL Time Warner to become a reality, U.S. regulators need to approve the deal. The companies are awaiting the verdicts of the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. On Wednesday, the FCC suspended its review of the merger until the FTC makes a decision.

AOL and Time Warner have come under fire from competitors, legislators and consumer groups for their deal. Critics are lobbying aggressively for the companies to let other Internet service providers tap their cable networks, for AOL to open its instant messaging network, and for assurances that AOL Time Warner will not discriminate against other content providers on its interactive TV systems.