Broadwing buy will up Level 3 stake in big-biz mart

Internet backbone provider Level 3 Communications Inc. will acquire Broadwing Corp., a provider of voice, data and media services, in a cash and stock deal worth about US$1.4 billion.

Broadwing sells fiber network-based services in the wholesale and large-business markets, and the acquisition will help Level 3 expand its recent focus on the large-business market, Level 3 Chief Executive Officer James Crowe said in a press release. The deal will also bolster Level 3’s traditional focus on the wholesale market, he said.

Level 3 announced an expansion of its large-business units in late May. Since mid-April, the company has announced deals to acquire TelCove Inc., a privately held Pennsylvania telecommunications company, for $1.24 billion; ICG Communications Inc., a privately held Colorado telecom company, for $163 million; and Looking Glass Networks Inc., a privately held Illinois provider of data transport services, for $165 million.

Level 3 completed an acquisition of Progress Telecom LLC, a wholesale network services company based in St. Petersburg, Florida, in March. The acquisitions give Level 3 a broader network infrastructure in metro areas across the U.S., the company said.

Broadwing, in Austin, Texas, delivers data, voice and media services to enterprises and telecom service providers over its 19,000-mile (30,577-kilometer) intercity fiber network. Broadwing’s revenue is roughly split between the wholesale market and business customers.

Level 3 expects to pay about $744 million in cash and issue about 122 million of its shares in the deal. Level 3 will pay $8.18 in cash and 1.3411 shares of its common stock for each share of Broadwing common stock outstanding at the deal’s closing, Level 3 said.

The companies expect the deal to close in the first quarter of 2007. Broadwing’s stockholders, as well as state and federal government regulators, must approve the deal.

Level 3 expects total integration costs to be between $110 million and $130 million. The company expects the acquisition to contribute to positive cash flow by 2008.

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