Verizon Communications has cleared the final hurdle to completing a $8.44 billion purchase of MCI by winning approval from Washington state...
Verizon Communications has cleared the final hurdle to completing a $8.44 billion purchase of MCI by winning approval from Washington state regulators, who placed several conditions on the merger application.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) approved the deal late Friday, Verizon spokesman Peter Thonis said Tuesday. The Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice already had approved the combination.
Verizon, the second-largest U.S. telephone company, is buying the country’s No. 2 long-distance provider to gain access to MCI’s corporate clients and a 98,000-mile network for delivering Internet access in 140 countries.
The purchase also will help Verizon keep up with larger competitor AT&T, which was bought by SBC Communications in November and adopted the AT&T name as part of its merger. Verizon, based in New York, still expects to complete its merger with MCI early next month, Thonis said.
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Washington regulators did not rubber-stamp the companies’ merger plan, which was filed with the state in late May. Washington was one of the last states in which Verizon filed its plan, according to the WUTC.
The commission asked that several conditions be met that it said would protect Washington phone customers. Verizon and MCI have until early next month to accept the commission’s conditions.
Those conditions include:
• The new phone company must create a $1.25 million fund to improve telecommunications services and help ease any harmful impact on competition.
• Verizon customers in Anacortes, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley must be able to dial other numbers within Skagit County without paying long-distance charges.
• Verizon customers in Arlington, Darrington, Granite Falls and Marysville must be able to call each other without paying long-distance charges.
• The extra $15 to $30 that customers pay a month in the Eastern Washington communities of Fairfield, Farmington, Latah, Rockford, Rosalia, Tekoa and Oakesdale must be eliminated to make calls between those communities local.
MCI customers must be notified that Verizon is purchasing the company, the commission said. Also, Verizon must waive a $4.50 fee for customers who want to change companies.
Shares of Verizon on Tuesday dropped 4 cents to $30.44. They had declined 25 percent this year before today. Ashburn, Va.-based MCI rose 6 cents to $19.90.
Verizon Chief Executive Ivan Seidenberg has been investing in services outside traditional telephone, including wireless phone and Internet access, faster Web access for homes, and television delivered through the company’s fiber-optic network. With MCI, he gains customers including Airbus.
MCI also this month said it had won a $550 million, five-year contract from ABN Amro Holding that is MCI’s second-largest commercial contract ever. Under the agreement, MCI will manage a data network that connects more than 6,000 ABN Amro locations.
Bloomberg News and Seattle Times technology reporter Kim Peterson contributed to this report.