Qwest Long-Haul Wont Sell at Asking Price Report

Reuters is citing unnamed sources in its new report that Qwest Communications International Inc. (Q) is likely to get far less than $3 billion for its long-haul assets.

The news agency said Qwest has asked for bidders to submit their numbers by early next month, and that the struggling Bell company, though it hopes to make more than $2 billion from the sale, will have to settle for a lower number.

“They are going to have to take a lower-than-expected price or end up keeping the network themselves. They aren’t going to get the asking price they floated,” Reuters quoted an anonymous investment banker as saying.

Level 3 Communications Inc. (LVLT), Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) and tw telecom inc. (TWTC) are expected to bid for Qwest’s long-haul network, which Qwest reportedly wants to sell so it can offset its $4 billion debt load. Reuters said Level 3 and tw telecom – which declined comment – probably would partner with private equity investors if they pursue a long-haul purchase.

The larger service providers such as AT&T Inc. (T) and Verizon Wireless (VZ) are predicted to go after Qwest’s network only if the price goes down. Earlier this week, Cogent Communications said it won’t consider such a buy unless the asking sum is reduced.

Qwest’s stock was down 1.11 percent at noon Eastern on Friday, trading for $4.03.

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