Verizon to Divest 15 More Markets

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) said this week it will divest 15 additional markets this week, for a total of 100, to entice the Justice Department to approve the pending Verizon-Alltel merger.

Telecom analysts for investment bank Stifel Nicolaus said in a research note it’s possible the FCC could add more markets to its requirements, “but we would not expect it to be material.” The divested properties already encompass approximately 2 million subscribers, Stifel analysts wrote.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants to approve the merger before a new presidential administration takes over. Analysts repeatedly have said that an Obama administration would impose more conditions on the deal and a McCain presidency, while easier on the carriers, also would expect more from them than the Bush administration has done.

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