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.