America Online's merger with Time Warner took a step towards completion this autumn after shareholders at both companies voted on Friday in favour of the mega-deal.

AOL shareholders voted 97% in favour of the $123 billion merger, according to a preliminary count. Earlier in the day, Time Warner's shareholders approved the merger at a separate meeting in New York, with more than 99% voting in favour, according to Time Warner chairman Gerald Levin.

Despite current scrutiny from competition watch dogs, AOL chairman and chief executive Steve Case said he was pleased with how regulatory reviews were proceeding, adding that the deal was on track to close in the autumn.

US and European regulators are examining the plan to merge the powerhouses of traditional and new media, with some analysts saying the deal may not close until the fourth quarter of this year. Regulators might seek to ensure that the combined company's distribution channels remain open to other content providers.

The deal, first unveiled in January, would create the largest media company in the US, giving AOL a much-needed broadband pipe and Time Warner the Internet.