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AOL Time Warner will vote on dropping AOL from name

NEW YORK (AP) — AOL and Time Warner got married at the height of the Internet boom, and now they seem ready to acknowledge that it's time for a separation — in name, at least.

AOL Time Warner Inc.'s board will vote today on a proposal to drop "AOL" from the company's name, according to a source familiar with the matter. The measure is expected to pass.

Company spokeswoman Mia Carbonnell declined to comment.

The company has already kicked out the executives responsible for the merger and backtracked on the lofty promises for a media revolution, but a decision to jettison "AOL" would pay tribute to the failed hopes of the largest merger in U.S. history.

Veterans from the Time Warner side of the conglomerate have long pressed for the name change as problems mounted at America Online, which used its high-flying shares to buy Time Warner at the height of the Internet bubble in early 2000.

But the company gave no indication it would consider such a change until last month, when it said that Jonathan Miller, the head of the AOL division, personally appealed to chief executive Richard Parsons that the AOL name be dropped. Parsons is believed to favor the proposal for the name change.

AOL has said it is not planning to spin off the AOL division, focusing instead on trying to fix the unit's problems.

Miller told his staff in an e-mail memo in August that he was pressing for the change because the term "AOL" had become shorthand for the entire media and entertainment company rather than for the online division he ran.

"I believe it's time for us to get our brand back," Miller said in his note.

A decision to change the name would have several implications, including the name of the next major addition to the Manhattan skyline. Currently billed as the AOL Time Warner Center, the 80-story, twin-tower structure in Columbus Circle is nearly done and is expected to open up to its first occupants, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in the fall.

AOL Time Warner's headquarters, currently housed in Rockefeller Center, are expected to move to the new building next spring. The structure has been under construction since 2000, the year the companies announced their merger.

The company would also drop "AOL" as its ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange, reverting to its former symbol of "TWX."