Time Warner has announced that its board has authorized a complete separation of itself and AOL. Following the split, AOL will become an independent, publicly traded company once again.

The two companies announced plans to merge in January 2000, and they were approved by regulators a year later. This split, eight years later, will leave AOL to focus on its web brands ad business. It will also continue to offer its much-maligned ISP service.

AOL Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong said: “This will be a great opportunity for AOL, our employees and our partners. Becoming a standalone public company positions AOL to strengthen its core businesses, deliver new and innovative products and services, and enhance our strategic options".

"We play in a very competitive landscape and will be using our new status to retain and attract top talent. Although we have a tremendous amount of work to do, we have a global brand, a committed team of people, and a passion for the future of the Web".

Currently Google owns 5% of AOL, but a prior arrangement will see Time Warner buying that in late summer. Once that's complete, the companies plan to conduct the "legal and structural separation" around the end of the year.