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 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
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.