Justice Department: CenturyLink Violated Terms of Level 3 Acquisition


Judge and Gavel

CenturyLink has settled U.S. Justice Department allegations that it violated a judgment to prevent anticompetitive effects from its Level 3 Communications acquisition.

The judgment barred CenturyLink from soliciting customers that switched to the buyer of assets divested during the acquisition. CenturyLink failed to comply; instead, it initiated contact more than 70 times over more than a year with former Level 3 customers.

The telecommunications giant completed its $34 billion acquisition of Level 3 in November 2017.

CenturyLink doesn’t deny the allegations and agrees to an amended final judgment, the Justice Department said.

“When a defendant violates the terms of a settlement decree, it must be held accountable to its obligations to the department and the American consumer,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. “Today’s motion to amend the final judgment ensures that consumers get the benefit of competition otherwise lost by [the acquisition]. I also commend CenturyLink for its cooperation in resolving the department’s concerns.”

CenturyLink;s Mark Molzen

CenturyLink’s Mark Molzen

“While CenturyLink disagrees with the government’s characterization of the alleged violations, we were pleased with the cooperative partnership of the Department of Justice in reaching a resolution that was in the best interest of all parties,” said Mark Molzen, CenturyLink spokesman.

Amended Judgment

The antitrust division filed an unopposed motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to amend the judgment entered in March 2018 to resolve the Department’s concerns.

As part of the settlement, CenturyLink agrees to:

  • Extend the non-solicitation period by two years for the divestiture buyer.
  • The appointment of an independent monitoring trustee.
  • Pay the United States to defray the costs of the department’s investigation of CenturyLink’s violations of the court order.

These provisions will allow the divestiture buyer to have the benefit of the original court order, the Justice Department said. The divestiture buyer can replace competition lost because of the acquisition, it said.

CenturyLink also agreed to four new standard provisions that the Department has required in all recent antitrust settlements that make the antitrust division’s consent decrees easier to enforce.

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