Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Starboard Value LP on the value of AOL's intellectual property

From a letter by Jeffrey C. Smith of Starboard Value LP on April 10:

We have been consistent in our view that AOL’s portfolio of intellectual property is non-core, extremely valuable, and should be monetized. On February 24, 2012, we sent a letter urging you to explore actions to monetize and unlock the value of AOL’s portfolio of more than 800 patents. We noted our belief that AOL’s patent portfolio could produce in excess of $1 billion of licensing income if appropriately harvested and monetized. On March 30, 2012, we wrote you a follow-up letter stressing that the Company should explore the monetization of the patent portfolio with a sense of urgency, and should carefully assess any asset sale or divestiture to ensure the most tax-efficient outcome.

We were pleased to read yesterday’s announcement that AOL has entered into a definitive agreement to sell more than 800 of its patents and their related patent applications to Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”) for aggregate proceeds of $1.056 billion in cash in a tax efficient manner. The Company will also grant Microsoft a non-exclusive license to its retained portfolio of more than 300 patents and patent applications covering categories including advertising, search, social networking, content generation/management and mapping, among others. We commend management and the Board for taking this meaningful first step in unlocking value for AOL shareholders.


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