Qwest: Were Keeping Our Long-Haul Baby

Looks like all those questions over Qwest Communications International Inc.’s (Q) future, should the much-discussed long-haul sale have materialized, were for naught. The Denver-based RBOC said today it won’t sell its long-distance assets.

Executives and the board of directors “have determined that the long-distance network asset holds far more value to Qwest shareholders and is more strategically important to Qwest and its customers than is the alternative of pursuing a transaction,” Qwest said in a wordy press release.

Qwest confirmed that it was indeed seeking bids on the network, after weeks of refusing to comment on what the rest of the industry already knew. However, the carrier only started pursuing bids “after receiving unsolicited indications of interest from potential purchases,” it said.

While Qwest didn’t reveal the bid amounts, news broke last week that the provider had extended the bidding process because it looked to reap far less than the $2 billion to $3 billion it wanted. The company faces $560 million in maturing debt this year and reportedly hoped to use a long-haul sale to offset some of the load, as well as make up for slowing sales.

Customers on Qwest’s long-haul network include government agencies and out-of-region enterprises.

Qwest’s stock was down more than 6 percent in mid-day trading, at $3.91.

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