Windstream Closes Iowa Telecom Purchase for $1.2B

By Kelly Teal Comments
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Windstream Corp. has closed its Iowa Telecommunications Services Inc. takeover. The deal gives Arkansas-based Windstream thousands more wireline and broadband customers, and some valuable wireless spectrum, to boot.

When Windstream announced the Iowa Telecom acquisition last November, it planned to pay $1.1 billion in stock and cash. On Tuesday, Windstream said the amount totaled $1.2 billion. Iowa Telecom shareholders received .804 shares of Windstream stock and $7.90 in cash per Iowa Telecom share. All told, Windstream issued an approximate 26.7 million shares valued at $284 million based on the company’s May 28 closing stock price. Windstream paid another $260 million in cash, and it repaid all of Iowa Telecom’s outstanding debt – that came to about $613 million, more than the $598 million Windstream had anticipated.

Iowa Telecom will declare a final dividend of .1389890 per share on May 18.

The Iowa Telecom purchase gives Windstream deeper rural-markets reach and ownership of 15 FCC Advanced Wireless Service licenses and three 700MHz band licenses. Windstream has not discussed its strategy for those properties.

The Iowa Telecom buy, made public in November 2009, marked Windstream’s fourth acquisition last year. Earlier in the month, Windstream made a surprise move by snapping up CLEC NuVox Inc. to expand its small business reach. Windstream has said it realizes it needs to expand beyond its rural wireline focus to thrive in the 21st century. Windstream also bought Lexcom and D&E Communications in 2009. Once all of the purchases are complete, Windstream expects to report about $4 billion in annual revenue. The Iowa Telecom deal alone should save Windstream up to $35 million in operating and capital expenses.

In the meantime, Windstream faces the task of integrating Iowa Telecom employees and customers. Windstream still has not said whether it will keep Iowa telecom’s 800 workers, although it did say last year it will maintain operations in Iowa Telecom’s Newton headquarters and will expand the call center there. As of the end of 2010’s first quarter, Iowa Telecom served 249,000 access lines, 96,000 high-speed Internet customers and 27,500 digital TV customers in Iowa and Minnesota.

Alan Wells, chairman and CEO of Iowa Telecom, now sits on Windstream’s board of directors.

Shares of Windstream were trading .56 percent higher at $10.73 about a half hour before Wall Street's close.

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