Colorado Ready to Approve CenturyLink-Qwest Merger, For a Price

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It’s been a busy week for CenturyLink Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc. – the two carriers are quickly whittling down the list of entities that must approve their pending, $10.6 billion merger.

On Monday, CenturyLink and Qwest said CLEC Integra Telecom had agreed to back the deal; yesterday, federal customers in Arizona, Colorado and Utah gave the transaction their thumbs-up. On Wednesday, the operators said they also now have support from the staff of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Commissioners still must make the final call on the merger but staff agree it should be allowed.

Of course, the PUC staff blessing didn’t come without conditions. Once combined, CenturyLink and Qwest have committed to invest at least $70 million in broadband infrastructure in the Centennial State over five years. The deal mimics the requirements set forth by the state of Iowa for a CenturyLink-Qwest combo.

CenturyLink and Qwest have received regulatory approval for their merger in 12 states and the District of Columbia. They’re still waiting for OKs from nine more states, including Colorado, and the FCC. The companies aim to close the $10.6 billion – $22.4 billion once Qwest’s debt is included – some time early next year.

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