Qwest merger: Bill Ritter, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet weigh in on losing company HQ

As we told you earlier today, Qwest is being acquired by CenturyTel in a $10.6 billion stock swap.

We don't know the repercussions yet, and won't for a while. But they'll undoubtedly be significant in light of the fact that the combined company's headquarters will be located at CenturyTel's home base, Monroe, Louisiana, robbing Denver of an economic driver and downtown residents of a blue-light special.

That's the kind of news guaranteed to get politicos' attention. No surprise, then, that Governor Bill Ritter and senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have all issued statements about the transaction. The general tone of their comments, which refer to CenturyTel as CenturyLink, a name the firm began using after another merger last year, is one of concern about the possible loss of jobs in Colorado. Here's what they had to say:


Gov. Bill Ritter issued the following statement today regarding the proposed acquisition of Qwest Communications by CenturyLink:

"I look forward to working with Qwest and CenturyLink to protect Colorado jobs and strategize how the state can support the company and ultimately help it grow here in Colorado, especially as we work to expand broadband service and improve telecommunications services and technology around the state.

"We all are disappointed at the prospect of losing the Qwest corporate headquarters, but this transaction, in an ever-changing telecommunications industry, could lead to long-term stability for the vast majority of Qwest employees, retirees, customers and shareholders. Colorado will continue to serve as a regional hub for what will be a vast 37-state service area and we expect that a significant number of jobs will remain here.

"My administration has worked aggressively with Qwest to expand broadband access so that all Coloradans can enjoy the benefits of better healthcare, education and employment opportunities through telemedicine, distance learning and tele-commuting. I look forward to continuing to make progress with CenturyLink on our vision for a 21st high-tech infrastructure for Colorado

"It is also my hope that CenturyLink continues Qwest's historically strong support for our community, our institutions and our charitable organizations."

Udall, Bennet Statement on Qwest Merger

Washington, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet issued the following statement on the merger of Qwest and CenturyLink:

"As Coloradans, we are concerned about the impact the merger of Qwest and CenturyLink will have on our state's economy, particularly during these difficult economic times. Qwest is an important partner and employer in our state, and we have been in close contact to ensure we are doing everything we can to make sure this merger results in the best possible outcome for Colorado.

"While the details are still developing, we have several questions that need to be answered. In particular, we want to ensure that as many jobs as possible remain in Colorado and that the merger will not undermine efforts to bring high-speed Internet service to all regions of Colorado, especially our rural areas. We will continue our conversation in a meeting with Qwest and CenturyLink in the coming days."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts