U.S. operator sticks to deadline of mid-to-late October to close takeover, invites interest in metro network and fibre assets to be divested

CenturyLink has secured the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) for its proposed acquisition of Level 3, but the merged entity will be required to divest certain network assets.

The U.S. network operator revealed that it must sell off Level 3 metro network assets in three states and two dozen strands of dark fibre. However, it welcomed the DoJ’s conditional approval of the takeover.

"It is an important milestone in our overall approval process," said John Jones, SVP for public policy and government relations at CenturyLink.

"We anticipate court approval of our agreed resolution with the Department of Justice as early as this week," he said. "We are focused on meeting our targeted transaction closing timeframe of mid-to-late October."

CenturyLink announced its US$34 billion acquisition of Level 3 in October last year. At the time it said it aimed to complete the tie-up by the end of the third quarter of this year, but in mid-September it pushed back the deadline by a few weeks in order to complete the various regulatory approvals processes.

The firm still requires the approval of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the California Public Utilities Commission.

Under the terms of the DoJ agreement, the merged CenturyLink/Level 3 will have to sell Level 3’s metro network assets in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boise, Idaho; and Tucson, Arizona. However, it will hold on to its customers in those areas, unless they choose to move their business to whoever buys the assets.

The merged company will be able to purchase network services from the buyer in those areas should it need to in order to provide uninterrupted service to customers.

It must also divest 24 strands of dark fibre connecting 30 specified city pairs across the country in the form of an indefeasible right of use. The fibres in question are not currently in commercial use.

CenturyLink invited parties interested in acquiring the assets to get in touch.