AOL Time Warner (AOLTW) has reported a fourth-quarter loss that included a whopping $US44.5 billion noncash charge due largely to the diminishing value of its AOL Internet unit.
The media conglomerate also announced that Ted Turner would be stepping down as vice-chairman.
AOLTW reported a net loss for its 2002 fiscal fourth quarter of $US44.9 billion, compared with a loss of $US1.8 billion for the year-ago period.
The noncash goodwill charge was taken to reflect the decline in value of AOL and other intangible assets that the company is carrying, AOLTW said.
For the full 2002 fiscal year the company reported a net loss of $US98.7 billion, compared with a net loss of $US4.93 billion for the 2001 fiscal year.
Although the charge was largely expected given the continued weakness of the AOL unit, the resignation of Turner came as a surprise.
AOLTW Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dick Parsons said that Turner would be leaving the company in May to "pursue philanthropic interests."
Turner's departure follows earlier this month that the company’s chairman and the founder of America Online, Steve Case, would step down in May due to continued criticism over his leadership.
With AOL in trouble, the New York-based company has been searching for a way to cut costs and boost revenue.
On Tuesday, the company sold its 8.4 percent stake in Hughes Electronics for about $US800 million in an effort to lighten its debt load. AOLTW is also reportedly shopping around its book publishing division in hopes of further filling its coffers.
Saddled with a struggling Internet unit, Government probes into its accounting practices and internal power-battles, AOLTW's trials and travails of late have served as a veritable buffet of scandal and speculation.
The company's quarterly results, and the news of a further executive shake-up, will ensure observers continue to monitor the media mammoth.