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Washington state clears CenturyLink, Qwest merger


The Associated Press

March 15, 2011


Washington state regulators have approved CenturyLink Inc.'s proposed purchase of Qwest Communications International Inc. in a stock deal that will combine two of the nation's largest telephone companies.

CenturyLink , the country's fifth largest local phone company, announced plans to buy Qwest, the third largest local phone company, in a stock deal worth more than $10 billion when it was announced in April of last year. The companies aim to complete the merger on April 1, pending necessary regulatory approvals, including by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is expected to sign off on the deal soon.

CenturyLink and Qwest hope the merger will help them navigate a shrinking landline phone business as consumers turn to wireless plans, Internet calling services and even cable companies to make phone calls.

As of the end of last year, CenturyLink had 6.5 million access lines and Qwest had 8.9 million access lines. The combined company would be based at CenturyLink's headquarters in Monroe, La. Qwest is based in Denver.

To gain regulatory approval from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, Qwest and CenturyLink have pledged to invest at least $80 million in broadband networks in Washington over five years. The combined company will have nearly 1.5 million access lines across the state after the deal closes.