The Association of U S West Retirees



CenturyLink stands tall

Monroe-based company in the big leagues



By Greg Hilburn

May 18, 2011



CenturyLink Chief Executive Glen Post told shareholders Wednesday the company's two most recent monster acquisitions and a third one pending give the Monroe company the breadth and depth to compete with anyone in the telecommunications industry.

"It's been an exciting year and a year of change," Post told almost 500 people during the annual shareholders meeting at the company's headquarters on U.S. 165 North. "CenturyLink is at or near the top of every category in the industry.

"We have a history of adapting to change and growing shareholder value, and we believe we're well positioned for the future."

CenturyLink, the largest company headquartered in Louisiana, became the second largest telecommunications company in the U.S. behind only AT&T following it acquisitions of Embarq and Qwest Communications, and last month CenturyLink announced it will buy Savvis Inc. in a $3.2 billion deal.

"It's been amazing to me to see the company's officers' and employees' capacity for integrating the acquisitions," CenturyLink director Bruce Hanks of Monroe said. "This has always been a growth company even from its beginning, and as you get bigger the acquisitions get bigger."

After the Savvis deal closes sometime during the second half of this year, CenturyLink will generate about $20 billion in annual revenues.

Acquiring Savvis allows CenturyLink to expand its "cloud computing services," which refers to storing digital information and launching software services over the Internet instead of company-owned computer and data centers.

"We're very happy about the growth and remain steadfast in our support of this company and its leadership," said Bob Garst Jr. of Midland, Texas, whose family is CenturyLink's largest non-institutional shareholder with more than 1 million shares.

And this week in a Bloomberg story, some analysts predicted that CenturyLink might eventually buy Sprint.

"CenturyLink is a company with a really good balance sheet and looking for areas to invest its capital, its free cash flow in growth," analyst Chris Larsen of Piper Jaffray Cos. told Bloomberg. "If Sprint can stabilize and then begin to grow its customer base, it becomes a growth vehicle for (CenturyLink)."

But Post wasn't biting on Wednesday.

"Our focus now is on the integration of Qwest and the acquisition of Savvis," Post said following the shareholders meeting. "We're not looking to go after anything big right now."

CenturyLink employs more than 1,400 at its Monroe headquarters with a local annual payroll exceeding $70 million.