Ted Turner has halved his bet on an AOL Time Warner ( AOL). The outspoken CNN founder, who has had a love-hate relationship with AOL Time Warner since its creation in 2001, has disposed of roughly half his remaining stake in the multimedia conglomerate, according to a company statement issued Monday night. Turner, who is officially stepping down as vice chairman at the company's May 16 shareholder meeting, told AOL Time Warner that he sold 50 million of his shares "to diversify his financial holdings," according to AOL Time Warner. Turner said he transferred 10 million additional shares to a charitable trust, which also liquidated them. Though Turner, a major shareholder of Time Warner, was supportive of the merger with America Online when it was announced in early 2000, he, like other shareholders, has grown publicly disenchanted with the transaction. Shares in AOL Time Warner fell 7 cents, to $13.38. Those shares were trading in the mid-50s two years ago. Despite Turner's reported unhappiness about how the merger turned out, AOL Time Warner on Monday night reported Turner's assertion that he remains supportive of management and has voted in line with management's recommendations on every item scheduled for the upcoming annual meeting. On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that another major AOL Time Warner shareholder, Gordon Crawford, would not be voting to re-elect onetime AOL Time Warner chairman Steve Case, who still sits on AOL Time Warner's board.
Turner, too, says he will remain on the company's board. Turner, who has been regularly selling shares in recent months, told AOL Time Warner he was canceling the stock-selling program he had in place to fund his personal investment activity. As of Jan. 31, Turner owned 139 million AOL Time Warner shares and options, or 3.2% of outstanding shares.