Google can sell AOL stake in 2008

Regulatory filings give the search giant a right to force AOL's parent company Time Warner, to register its shares with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

By July 2008, Google will have the right to demand that Time Warner register its shares in AOL with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, giving the search giant the ability to sell its 5-percent stake in AOL.

According to regulatory filings by Google and AOL's parent company Time Warner, the former can make the move two-and-a-half years into its new contract with Time Warner, The New York Times reported. The companies announced last week that Google would buy a 5-percent stake in AOL for US$1 billion.

Should Google choose to sell these shares in the public market, Time Warner has the option to buy the shares back for cash or in exchange for Time Warner shares at an appraised value.

Time Warner's spokesperson Edward Adler noted that the term was "a standard clause", while Google's representative Lynn Fox was quoted in the New York Times report to say the filings do not equate to "an intent to exercise the rights".