This week, CenturyLink and Qwest cleared yet another hurdle in their frenzied push to receive all regulatory and customer approvals for their pending merger.
The companies said on Monday theyve reached a deal on wholesale conditions with cable operator Cox Communications in Arizona and Nebraska. And, Cox now says the $22.4 billion CenturyLink-Qwest merger serves the public interest and should be approved by the necessary states.
"We are pleased that Cox will not oppose our merger," said Bill Cheek, president of CenturyLink wholesale operations. "Cox is a significant interconnecting network customer of Qwest, and we look forward to continuing an effective working relationship after the transaction is completed."
The latest agreement mirrors another recently reached among CenturyLink, Qwest and CLEC Integra Telecom. Like Cox, Integra at first feared unfair pricing and conditions could result from the combination of the two ILECs. But Integra reneged on those concerns after coming to a new understanding with Qwest and CenturyLink about access terms.
CenturyLink and Qwest expect to close their merger, which includes the assumption of $11.6 billion of Qwest debt, in early 2011. So far, the two service providers have secured approvals from a dozen states and the District of Columbia, as well as two unions. Nine more states and the FCC must give the transaction their blessing before it can be completed.
Shares of CenturyLink were trading .78 percent higher a little after noon Eastern, while shares of Qwest were up .52 percent.