Shortly before he's due to step down as vice chairman of AOL Time Warner Inc. at the media giant's annual shareholders meeting May 16, Ted Turner has unloaded more than half of his holdings in the company.
Turner, an outspoken critic of AOL Time Warner's management in the recent past, sold about 60 million shares, raising about $784 million.
Turner still controls another 45 million shares of AOL stock, or about 1% of its outstanding shares. He continues to be AOL Time Warner's largest individual shareholder. He intends to remain on AOL's board of directors.
Turned sold 50 million shares to Goldman Sachs & Co. for about $13.07 per share, and another 10 million through a charitable trust at the same price. That was a slight discount to AOL's 4 p.m. trading price on May 5 of $13.38 per share. AOL stock was priced at $13.29 per share on May 7.
Turner has invested in a restaurant chain that sells bison burgers and steaks — Ted's Montana Grill — and has numerous charitable obligations, including a $1 billion pledge to the United Nations.
In a statement, AOL said that Turner had informed them "he has canceled his stock-selling program that had been in place to fund his personal investment activity."
AOL Time Warner shares have fallen about 70 percent since the merger between America Online Inc. and Time Warner Inc. closed in 2001. That decline helped deflate Turner's personal wealth — mainly tied up in AOL stock — to $1.7 billion from as high as $8 billion, according to published reports.