Qwest for Buyer
Qwest just became interesting again. Shares of the smallest of the Baby Bells are on the upswing this morning following reports that it is considering selling its long-haul voice and data network. Sources familiar with the matter tell The Wall Street Journal that Qwest is in the early stages of seeking a buyer for the unit, which could be valued at about $2 billion to $3 billion.
For Qwest (Q), the sale would do much to pare down its
nearly $14 billion in debt; the company has $560 million maturing in 2009 and another roughly $2.2 billion due in 2010. But finding a buyer could be difficult. For one thing, the souring economy will make finding sources of funding difficult. For another, potential acquirers like AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) may decline to bid simply because of antitrust concerns. Said Michael Hodel, an analyst at Morningstar, “Both companies have spent the last five years rolling up a big chunk of the telecom industry, and I don’t think regulators would be in the mood to see those firms get even larger.”