CenturyLink has gained state regulatory approvals of its pending acquisition of Level 3 from Minnesota and Virginia, bringing it another step closer to completing a deal that will make it a bigger player in the growing business services sector.
Minnesota and Virginia joined Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Ohio, Utah and West Virginia in approving the merger.
Additionally, CenturyLink received regulatory clearance from Puerto Rico and Montana, joining Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada and Texas in granting regulatory clearance for the deal.
Over 15 states and territories have approved or cleared the CenturyLink/Level 3 merger to date. CenturyLink remains confident that it will be able to complete the acquisition on time.
“We still believe we can close by the end of September,” said Stewart Ewing, CFO of CenturyLink, during the recent 45th Annual J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. “We think we’re on the schedule to be able to do that with the state approvals we have in hand as well as the other states we continue to work through.”
Ewing added that “with the respect to the FCC and Department of Justice approvals, we think we’re on track to get those approvals so we can close by the end of September.”
Upon completion, the combined company expects to offer enterprise and wholesale customers a broader and more complementary range of services and solutions to small businesses, large businesses, large multinational enterprises and government agencies.
While CenturyLink remains on track with approvals, the acquisition has faced opposition from other competitors like Frontier and Windstream. The two service providers have accused Level 3 of unfair billing practices that could affect rural broadband deployment. Level 3 is a major middle mile provider to a number of service providers in California.
Meanwhile, a coalition of consumer advocacy groups—TURN, The Greenlining Institute and the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) office of ratepayer advocates—along with the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), said they are concerned that the combined company will control too much of the state’s wholesale and retail fiber solutions.
CETF has asked the CUPC and other regulators to carefully consider the deal’s effect on telecom competition in California, particularly on what benefits it can bring to expand broadband availability in the state.