Windstream Switching to NASDAQ Stock Exchange

Windstream Corp. (WIN) is moving its stock exchange listing to take advantage of what it called an “innovative trading platform and cost-effective services.”

The Little Rock, Ark.-based rural service provider will migrate from the New York Stock Exchange to the tech-heavy NASDAQ Global Select Market on Dec. 10. It will continue to trade under the “WIN” symbol.

The NASDAQ charges lower listing and annual fees than the NYSE, which surely contributed to Windstream’s decision. Indeed, Rob Clancy, Windstream’s senior vice president and treasurer, said the switch “exemplifies our continued focus on shareholder value.”

Shares of Windstream stock were bolstered by the announcement and, surprisingly, not hurt by a simultaneous report from ratings service Standard & Poor’s. Windstream stocks were trading .51 percent higher, reaching $10.131, by 11:25 a.m. Eastern.

S&P on Wednesday lowered its ratings on Windstream and placed the carrier on CreditWatch negative because of the new $1.1 billion acquisition of Iowa Telecom. S&P’s rationale stemmed in part from Windstream opting to fund most of the deal with debt.

“The downgrade reflects our concerns regarding Windstream’s aggressive acquisition strategy, including four acquisitions over the past six months, coupled with leverage that was already high for the rating level,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Allyn Arden. “We will continue to evaluate Windstream’s strategy to integrate the acquired properties and potential synergies, especially as it tries to stem access-line losses.”

Arden added that S&P experts want to talk with Windstream management about future M&A plans and “commitment to debt reduction.”

If S&P dings Windstream’s ratings, it would likely be by just one notch, Arden said.

Iowa Telecom’s ratings, meanwhile, remained unchanged by S&P.

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