- - Monday, April 9, 2012

NEW YORK — AOL said Monday that it has agreed to sell 800 of its patents and their related applications to Microsoft and grant it a license for its remaining patents for a total of about $1.06 billion in cash.

New York-based AOL Inc. said it plans to return some of the sale proceeds to its shareholders.

The company’s shares jumped $6.46, or 35 percent, to $24.77 in pre-market trading. Microsoft shares slipped 22 cents to $31.30.

After the sale, AOL said it will still hold more than 300 patents and applications covering a variety of core and strategic technologies including advertising, search, content generation, social networking, mapping, multimedia and security, among others.

AOL also received a license to the patents being sold to Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp.

Tim Armstrong, AOL’s chairman and chief executive, said the deal with Microsoft resulted from a “robust” auction of the company’s patents. He said the company’s license agreement with Microsoft shows that it still holds a valuable patent portfolio.

“The combined sale and licensing arrangement unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders and enables AOL to continue to aggressively execute on our strategy to create long-term shareholder value,” Mr. Amstrong said in a statement.

AOL said it will determine the best way to distribute a “significant portion” of the sale proceeds to shareholders before the sale closes, which is expected to happen by the end of this year.


Former bank director gets prison in scam

NEW YORK — A former bank director who pleaded guilty to grand larceny in a $60 million stock fraud scam has been sentenced in New York.

A Manhattan judge says John Mazzuto will serve from 1 1/2years to 4 1/2 years in prison.

Mazzuto was accused of illegally giving stocks to friends and relatives, lying to investors, and pumping up stock prices as CEO of Industrial Enterprises of America Inc.

He pleaded guilty last year to grand larceny and scheming to defraud.

Two drunken driving cases stemming from an arrest in Florida are still open.

The company filed for bankruptcy in 2009. It remains in business.


Major banks say eurozone should ease austerity

A major global banking group said Monday that excessive spending cuts across the euro area are dragging the region’s economy down and called for more spending by countries such as Germany.

The Institute of International Finance, which played a central role in the restructuring of Greece’s debt, also assailed a eurozone firewall - designed to stop market contagion - as still inadequate and called for it to be expanded as soon as possible.

“The emphasis so far on fiscal austerity, while to a degree necessary for the countries facing market funding difficulties, is excessive when carried out across the board,” IIF chief Charles Dallara said in a letter addressed to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The tighter spending by eurozone governments “has already contributed to a steep contraction in domestic demand in the euro area as a whole,” Mr. Dallara said.

“It is important to move beyond just fiscal discipline, shift the policy focus from nominal to structural budget balances,” he said.

Instead, Mr. Dallara said, government fiscal policies should be differentiated between weaker eurozone members and those with surpluses and fiscal flexibility “so as to avoid the risk of an austerity overload.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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