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AOL to Sell DVD, CD Manufacturing Unit

In another move to reduce its debt, AOL Time Warner Inc. said Friday it is selling Warner Music’s DVD and CD manufacturing businesses to a Canadian company for $1.05 billion.

The cash deal was the latest in a series of moves aimed at cutting AOL’s debt from nearly $26 billion at the beginning of this year to $20 billion by the end of 2004.

In recent months, AOL has sold its 50 percent stake in the Comedy Central cable channel to Viacom Inc. for $1.2 billion and shed an $800 million stake in Hughes Electronics Corp. AOL settled a lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. for $750 million.

“We’ve made good progress,” AOL Time Warner spokeswoman Tricia Primrose said.

AOL Time Warner also is negotiating a sale of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team, the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team and the rights to the place they play, Philips Arena, to Dallas car dealer David McDavid. Analysts have said AOL Time Warner could reap $750 million selling those teams and baseball’s Atlanta Braves.

The CD and DVD business is going to Scarborough, Ontario-based Cinram International Inc., which will take over manufacturing, packaging and distribution for Warner Music, Warner Home Video and New Line Cinema in North America and Europe.

The businesses being sold to Cinram contributed $100 million in operating income in the first six months of the year, AOL Time Warner said.

AOL shares were up 34 cents to close at $16.74 on the New York Stock Exchange. On the Toronto stock Exchange, Cinram stock was up $4.95 Canadian dollars to close at $22 Canadian dollars.

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