EarthLink Deal Good for DeltaCom S&P

Standard & Poors Ratings Services on Tuesday put a B corporate credit assessment on ITC^DeltaCom, a few days after the Alabama-based CLEC agreed to a $516 million merger with ISP EarthLink.

"We will monitor events closely as they occur, and upon completion of the acquisition, if we rate the combined entity, we could raise the corporate credit rating on ITC^DeltaCom or affirm the rating at its present level,” said credit analyst Catherine Cosentino. Otherwise, we could withdraw the ratings."

Together, ITC^DeltaCom and EarthLink stand to create an IP infrastructure and communications company serving 14 states in the southeastern United States. ITC^DeltaComs fiber optic footprint spans 16,400 miles, with more than 12,400 miles owned or controlled under Indefeasible Right of Use agreements. It includes a 14-state Synchronous Optical Network backbone with 35 metro fiber rings, 294 colocations and 20 voice and data switches. EarthLink plans to use ITC^DeltaCom to strengthen its presence in the über-competitive business-services market.

Shares of ITC^DeltaCom closed .34 percent higher on Tuesday at $2.94, well above the companys 52-week low of $1.20. Shares of EarthLink, meanwhile, closed .12 percent higher at $8.63, a ways from the 52-week low of $7.85.

The $516 million transaction price tag includes $325 million of ITC^DeltaComs debt.

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