Merging CenturyLink, Qwest Add Another States Staff to List of Backers

CenturyLink and Qwest have added more backers to the list of entities favoring their $22.4 billion merger.

On Monday, the companies said staff at Arizonas Corporation Commission, as well as the states Residential Utility Consumer Office, believe the transaction serves the public interest and should be approved by commissioners.

"The needs of Arizona consumers were a primary consideration during the review," said John Jones, vice president of state government affairs for CenturyLink. "It was a thorough process, and we are pleased that it resulted in the staff’s support of the merger."

Arizonas acquiescence, though, comes with a price. Similar to agreements forged in Colorado and Iowa, CenturyLink and Qwest committed to spend millions on Arizonas broadband infrastructure, in exchange for merger support. The combined operator will pump at least $70 million into network upgrades over five years.

The news of Arizonas backing for the CenturyLink-Qwest combination comes a few days after Cox Communications, in Arizona and Nevada, also says the deal bodes well for the public. Meantime, CenturyLink and Qwest await approvals from nine more states, as well as the FCC.

CenturyLink and Qwest expect to close the merger during the first half of next year. Theyve been zipping through the approvals process over the past few months, securing consent from everyone from states to unions to wholesale customers. The $22.4 billion price tag includes $10.6 billion of Qwest debt.

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