Qwest, CenturyLink Officially Merge

The combined entity bills itself as the nation's third-largest telecommunications company, which will offer services to 37 states via its 190,000-mile fiber network.

Qwest Communications, Inc., and CenturyLink, Inc., on Friday completed their merger after about a year spent clearing regulatory hurdles.

The merged company-which will use the CenturyLink name-will be headquartered in Monroe, Louisiana. Minneapolis will serve as a regional headquarters, along with Phoenix; Seattle; Wake Forest, North Carolina; and Apopka, Florida. The combined company's business markets group will be based in Denver, the previous home of Qwest's headquarters.

Joanna Hjelmeland, a spokeswoman for the post-merger company, on Friday said that it will take several months to fully implement the CenturyLink brand across Minnesota and other former Qwest markets. There will be a transitional period in which some advertising materials will incorporate both of the company's brand. Eventually, all signage-including the logo on the downtown Minneapolis skyscraper-will switch to CenturyLink, she added.

The combined company employs about 3,300 people in Minnesota, Hjelmeland said. Regarding the future of local employees, the company provided the following statement: “We are taking the time necessary to make the best decisions regarding jobs to ensure we are positioned to meet the needs of our customers.” Hjelmeland also said that the company has agreements in place with union employees regarding their jobs and the merger.

The companies said in a news release that the merger has created the nation's third-largest telecommunications company-which offers services to 37 states via its 190,000-mile fiber network.

“The combination of our two companies allows us to offer customers of all sizes an even more robust portfolio of communications solutions that will continue to be backed by honest and personal service,” Glen Post, III, CEO and president of CenturyLink, said in a statement.

Under the terms of the deal, Qwest stockholders will get 0.1664 shares of CenturyLink stock for each of their Qwest shares.

According to the merged company's Web site, the transition will be smooth for existing customers: “It is business as usual for the customers of both CenturyLink and Qwest, and our customers should continue to use our services and contact us just the same way they always have.”

The companies first announced plans to merge in April 2010. They have since worked to gain approval of the deal from more than 20 states-including Minnesota-and other regulatory bodies, like the Federal Communications Commission.

The merger faced opposition from some smaller competitors that depend on Qwest's systems, but Qwest and CenturyLink made commitments to foster competition and expand access to services, ultimately garnering support from many of the companies that initially sought to block the merger.

In Minnesota, for example, the merged company has committed to investing at least $50 million in broadband infrastructure within the state over five years.

John Stanoch, president of Qwest's Minnesota operations, will leave the company.

According to Hjelmeland, Duane Ring is now the Midwest regional president for the company. Ring recently moved to Minneapolis from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where he served in various leadership positions at CenturyLink's former Midwest headquarters.