Qwest Deal Is One of CenturyTel Chief’s Riskiest Moves

Who is Glen Post, the man behind one of the biggest telecommunications mergers in recent memory? That was the question my colleague and I tried to answer in this profile published in The Wall Street Journal. To tell the story, I spent all afternoon speaking to Post’s friends and associates in Louisiana, as well as people who worked with Post in the telecom industry.

Qwest Deal Is One of CenturyTel Chief’s Riskiest Moves
By Spencer E. Ante and Joanne Lublin

Glen F. Post III just bagged his biggest duck.

The experienced hunter and little-known chief executive of CenturyTel Inc., a rural phone company based in Monroe, La., agreed Thursday to acquire Denver-based telecom giant Qwest Communications International Inc. in a $10.6 billion all-stock transaction.

Jay Carrier/ Bloomberg News

The deal, one of the largest telecom acquisitions in years, will create the third-biggest U.S. provider of local phone service, with operations in 37 states, 17 million access lines and five million broadband customers.

The deal is also one of Mr. Post’s riskiest bets. While the combination will give CenturyTel greater potential to cut costs and to sell more lucrative services, such as television and long-distance data transport, it also expands the company’s footprint in the shrinking land-line business, which has been in an inexorable decline since the rise of the cellphone.

Mr. Post is also lashing his company to a bigger and more indebted enterprise. Standard & Poor’s said Thursday the deal would likely cost CenturyTel its investment-grade credit rating. Moody’s Investors Service disagreed, but said CenturyTel faces a big challenge integrating the companies and steering through the sector’s decline.

Mr. Post, a 57-year-old native of northeastern Louisiana, has been an unlikely but aggressive consolidator. He has built his small company into a national competitor by scooping up the assets of other rural phone providers, and in recent years by taking over bigger players.

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