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No. 1: AOL Time Warner

New York

Revenue: $36.2 billion

Loss: $4.4 billion

A media behemoth forged early this year from a merger of two well-known names, AOL Time Warner shows no sign of curbing its expansion in the U.S. and overseas.

Its assets range from the Turner cable networks, Warner Bros.’ the WB network, HBO and Time Inc. to sprawling cable systems and the world’s largest Internet service provider — making it a dominant force in content and distribution. Its size has made it a conspicuous target for complaints from media watchers fearful that media assets are concentrated in ever fewer hands.

Conglom laid off 2,400 workers earlier this year and another 1,700 at AOL and Netcape recently. It also failed to meet second-quarter revenue targets in a weak ad environment. But its breadth and management makes it a Wall Street favorite. It’s been busy retooling CNN, trying to turn around sluggish Warner Music, celebrating hit factory HBO (“The Sopranos”), promoting its movies on service portal America Online and seeking other synergies to make its merger profitable. It recently bought big U.K. magazine group IPC. Chairman Steve Case and CEO Gerald Levin have prioritized international expansion.

Some say conglom’s latest gambit may well be a play for AT&T Broadband, the telco’s giant cable division that’s for sale — at the right price. AOL Time Warner certainly has the cash but could face a tough time from regulators.

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