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Utilities board approves Qwest-CenturyLink merger in Iowa


The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) announced this afternoon that it will allow the proposed merger of Qwest Communications International Inc. and CenturyLink Inc. to proceed in Iowa. In response to IUB concerns, the companies committed to invest at least $25 million during the next five years on broadband (high-speed Internet) in the state. The board also emphasized evidence presented by the companies regarding job stability as a factor in accepting the merger.

“The companies responded to board members’ concerns by providing a strong commitment to broadband which was not a part of the companies’ original proposal,” IUB Chairman Rob Berntsen said in a press release. “Also, synergies from the merger provide the potential for the future growth of customers and jobs.” 

According to testimony provided by the merging companies, most of the existing Qwest jobs in Iowa are not likely to be adversely affected by the merger, particularly because those jobs are largely customer-support positions. The companies told the board that as long as customer counts remain the same, customer service positions should not have to be eliminated.

Qwest, which is based in Denver, posted its first quarterly loss in five years today, primarily due to a change linked to the company’s rising stock price, ABC News reported. Qwest posted a loss of $90 million, or 5 cents per share, compared with earnings of $136 million, or 8 cents per share,  a year ago. CenturyLink, based in Monroe, La., posted net income today of $231 million for the third quarter, or 76 cents per share, down from $281 million, or 94 cents a share, a year ago.

The operating subsidiaries of both companies will continue as separate IUB-certified carriers, with no changes in rates, terms or conditions of service for customers, the board said. The board’s decision will become final when its written decision is issued in the next several weeks.

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