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XO ends rumors of Qwest purchase
CEO says deal with Icahn to close in '06
By Jeff Smith, Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, December 1, 2005

Any lingering speculation that Qwest Communications might make a last-ditch play to buy XO Communications got squelched Wednesday.  XO Chief Executive Carl Grivner said in an interview that Qwest hasn't expressed any interest recently and that the Virginia-based telecommunications provider remains on track to sell to its major shareholder Carl Icahn for $700 million in a deal expected to close early next year.

"We've gone through a long process and looked at a lot of different opportunities, and this was the best one and probably the cleanest because there's no financing (involved) -- Mr. Icahn can do the whole thing himself," Grivner said.

Grivner was in Denver to talk about XO's plans to split into two companies: a wireless broadband company that will be traded over the counter and a private wire-line company that will keep the XO name and its stable of business customers in more than 70 markets.  XO has nearly 400 employees in the Denver area.

Network World, a trade publication, reported in June that Qwest was considering XO, which had hired an investment banking firm to assess its strategic alternatives.

The speculation withered with the recent Icahn announcement but didn't die because XO indicated it would still consider a superior offer.

Explained Grivner: "Anyone is for sale at any time depending on the price and the opportunity."

In fact, Icahn, who brought XO out of bankruptcy in 2003 but has continued to see it struggle, still is expected to eventually sell the business.

Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs declined comment about XO but referred to a remark by CEO Dick Notebaert at a Credit Suisse First Boston Technology Conference on Wednesday.

"We have studied everybody, and we'll continue to study everybody.  If we find an asset that's strategically complementary at a price point that makes sense, we'll take appropriate action," Notebaert said at the conference.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/tech/article/0,2777,DRMN_23910_4279442,00.html