The Association of U S West Retirees



Merged firm plans key headquarters in Phoenix

CenturyLink, Qwest deal to add broadband service


by Megan Neighbor

The Arizona Republic
December 1, 2010


Louisiana-based CenturyLink announced Tuesday that Phoenix will serve as one of its six regional headquarters after the $10 billion merger of CenturyLink and Arizona's largest phone provider, Qwest Communications, is final.

Terry Beeler, current western region president, has been named post-merger president for CenturyLink's Southwest headquarters, a company news release said.

News of Phoenix as a new regional headquarters comes days after the utilities staff of the Arizona Corporation Commission and the state Residential Utility Consumer Office recommended approval of the merger.

Support was bolstered by a settlement agreement that all parties approved.

Under the agreement, CenturyLink, which is headquartered in Monroe, La., will invest $70 million in broadband services in Arizona over the next five years, submit financial and organizational materials to the Corporation Commission and RUCO until the merger's third anniversary and maintain or improve the number of premerger customer complaints in Arizona.

"Through this (settlement) agreement, we are putting our money where our mouth is," said Qwest Arizona President Jim Campbell, who will become the vice president for regulatory and legislative affairs for CenturyLink's Midwest region.

The $70 million broadband investment will primarily fund residential projects in rural, non-served and underserved communities where broadband is needed, Campbell said.

In addition to investing in broadband, CenturyLink will provide the commission and RUCO an annual report that includes information about the integration of the two companies' operations and organizational and workforce changes. Annual reports will be compiled until the company's third anniversary, according to the settlement.

Within the past few months, CenturyLink has reached post-merger agreements with its unions and competitors, such as Cox Communications and Integra Telecom.

It still needs approval from the full five-member Corporation Commission.

The commission's decision will be based on the recommended order of Administrative Law Judge Belinda Martin, who has scheduled a Dec. 13 hearing, said Rebecca Wilder, a spokeswoman for the corporation commission. Wilder did not comment further because of the settlement's pending status.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia have approved the marriage of the two telecommunication companies. Both must receive approval from nine additional states, including Arizona, and from the Federal Communications Commission before the merger is finalized.

The company expects to complete the merger in the first half of 2012, a news release said.

Qwest has approximately 3,000 employees in Arizona, said Mark Molzen, a spokesman for the company.