CenturyLink-Qwest: 9 States Down, 12 to Go

The pending $22.4 billion CenturyLink Inc.-Qwest Communications International Inc. merger is on its way to being a foregone conclusion.

This week, the two companies said theyve received approvals from nine states and the District of Columbia, as well as antitrust clearance from Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission. So far, regulators in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Ohio and West Virginia all have given CenturyLink and Qwest their blessing, with no conditions.

"Obtaining these state approvals not only signifies that we have met the requirements in these states, it also demonstrates that the commissions recognize this transaction is very much in the public interest,” Glen F. Post III, CenturyLinks president and CEO, said in a prepared statement.

CenturyLink and Qwest still must get 12 more states to sign off on their deal, which will create a new super LEC,” another in a class of operators that has grown through Tier 2 consolidation. Representing more than $30 billion in combined annual revenue, these new "Tier 1A" operators represent a significant threat to the major national carriers

CenturyLink will keep its headquarters in Monroe, La., as well as some of Qwests operations based in Denver. Together theyll employ about 49,000 people nationwide. As of June 30, the companies collectively served 5.2 million broadband users, 16.2 million access lines, 1.5 million video subscribers and almost 1 million wireless customers in 37 states. The companies still expect to close the transaction which includes the assumption of about $12 billion in Qwest debt in the first half of 2011.

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