Last fall, CenturyTel (CTL) announced it would buy Embarq (EQ) in a $5.8 billion stock swap. The merger is expected to close at the end of the second quarter, but the companies have not yet detailed their intentions for indirect channel operations.
“We haven’t finalized the strategy for alternate channels for the new, combined company simply because we’re still operating as separate entities until merger closing,” said Marty Leavengood, director of strategic alliance and channels for business markets at Embarq. “But discussions are well underway about the role and importance of partners. We look forward to sharing our program as soon as possible.”
Leavengood said the companies are working quickly on getting the new company’s leadership into place. Senior officers have now been named, with a mix of Embarq and CenturyTel leadership. Glen Post, CenturyTel’s chairman and CEO, will remain in that position. And Embarq CEO Tom Gerke will serve as executive vice chairman of the combined company.
Leavengood said he feels strongly that Embarq’s indirect channel operations will continue once the merger closes, but until the companies are unified, there will be no specific plans revealed as to what the program is going to look like, what the compensation structure will be and what segments the company will target.
“Embarq’s partner program is something that the new leadership team likes and understands,” said Leavengood, explaining that he believes the two companies’ channel programs would be complementary to each other. CenturyTel’s partner program was a little further down market, and not as mature as Embarq’s partner presence in the SMB and enterprise space.
“Indirect channels have been a big part of Embarq’s success since we spun off. It’s something that CenturyTel has used in segments we have not,” said Leavengood, referring to the residential and targeted vertical markets. “I think it would be safe to say there’s a lot of interest from both parties in having a strong alternate channel capability; once we come together, our go-to-market strategy will include a role for partners. I see that as a very positive thing, and I’m excited about what the future’s going to hold.”
The Embarq/CenturyTel deal will create the fourth-largest ILEC in the United States, serving 33 states via 8 million access lines. The united company’s name and branding have yet to be announced. Headquarters will stay in Monroe, La., but CenturyTel will keep Embarq’s facilities in Overland Park, Kan.