Time Warner CEO Bewkes: On Bebo: ‘We May Have Overpaid’; Still Splitting Off AOL Access

Questions about AOL’s (NYSE: TWX) purchase of Bebo continue to persist and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes acknowledged that the company “may have overpaid” when shelling out $850 million for the UK-heavy social networking site, though if they did, it wasn’t by too much — he made a similar comment at D. Still, during a Q&A at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference, Bewkes defended the purchase, and optimistically guessed that it would be easier for Bebo to monetize its traffic than it has been for other social nets, since much of the experience is based around rich media. Bewkes also reassured investors that Bebo would not be a standard deal for the company and that future acquisitions would be based on “quantitative returns” as opposed to more strategic notions of gaining scale.

Splitting off access: As they’ve said multiple times, Bewkes insists that selling off the AOL access business is still the plan. He was asked about an unspecified report (almost certainly this one from SAI) suggesting that the company might change its mind on selling the unit. After deriding it as a report on a mere “blog”, Bewkes joked: “Gee I wonder if it’s true.” He then firmly stated that they’re sticking with the plan. So that’s the official line on that for now. In the meantime, AOL access is a profitable business that’s not declining as fast as they expected.