Level 3 Tender Offer Aims to Unload High-Interest Debt

Level 3 Communications Inc. (LVLT) plans to sell eight-year notes for $640 million to help pay for the proposed repurchase of $550 million in high-interest debt that will mature in 2013.

The Broomfield, Colo.-based company has been paying between $500 million and $600 million in interest each year since 2001; it has yet to slash its long-term debt load to less than $5 billion.

The service provider must raise all $640 million and get the minimum required amount of tenders – which it didn’t specify on Tuesday – for the new debt offering to succeed. But if Level 3 does get its way, its circumstances could start to change. Indeed, many companies over the past year have been selling new debt to repay borrowings slated to mature soon.

Level 3 stock was trading 1.24 percent higher in afternoon activity at $1.63. The company will release its fourth-quarter earnings later this month. For 2009, executives said in a separate statement on Tuesday they expect the company to be cash-flow neutral, yet they expect better revenue from certain core services. Level 3’s sales have dropped during the recession as wholesale users cut back on purchases.

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