is in advanced talks to sell a stake in its struggling AOL unit to
), according to a report in the
New York Post
The report cites sources familiar with the matter. A possible deal would see the two companies combine Microsoft's MSN Internet service with AOL in a joint venture.
A Time Warner rep wasn't immediately available for comment. The
article also says that "sources close to Time Warner's management say that Time Inc., the company's publishing unit, could be sold or spun off sometime next year if its performance doesn't improve."
The news comes amid rumbling from activist shareholder Carl Icahn. Icahn has been pressuring the world's largest media company to do something to get its stock out of the doldrums. Icahn has demanded that Time Warner spin off its entire cable division and buy back $20 billion worth of shares. CEO Dick Parsons has mostly demurred, indicating that Time Warner is committed to boosting shareholder value.
Icahn's recommendation that Time Warner part ways with the cable unit has been embraced in some quarters on Wall Street, but some observers believe the company would be loath to bid adieu to its distribution capabilities while the long-awaited turnaround of AOL remains incomplete.
In premarket trading Thursday, shares in Time Warner were up 38 cents to $18.30.