NEW YORK – Verizon Communications Inc. said on Tuesday it will spin off its fixed-line business in the northeast United States and merge it with rural telecommunications provider FairPoint Communications Inc., in a deal worth $2.7 billion.
Verizon will set up a separate entity for its Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont local exchange businesses, which will be merged with FairPoint. Verizon’s stockholders will own about 60 percent of the new company and FairPoint stockholders the remainder.
Verizon said shareholders will receive about $1 billion in stock, or one share of FairPoint stock for around every 55 Verizon shares held as of the record date.
The deal is expected to be completed within the next 12 months, the companies said.
It will create the eighth largest U.S. telephone company, with 1.6 million access lines, 234,000 high-speed data subscribers and 600,000 long-distance customers, FairPoint said.
The deal comes as growth in traditional phone services slows as consumers shift to wireless and Internet-based services, prompting consolidation among local telecommunications providers.
FairPoint said it expects $60 million to $75 million in annual cost savings for the combined operations after the businesses are fully integrated, which is expected to be completed about a year after closing.
It also said the deal will add to free cash flow upon completion, and that its current annual dividend of $1.59 per share will continue unchanged.
Merrill Lynch advised Verizon on the deal. Lehman Brothers acted as FairPoint’s lead financial adviser while Deutsche Bank Securities and Morgan Stanley acted as advisers to FairPoint.
Verizon’s operations in those states cover about 1.5 million phone access lines, 180,000 high-speed Internet subscribers and 600,000 long distance customers.
FairPoint shares rose 10.3 percent to $20.45 while Verizon shares firmed 0.08 percent to $37.36 in opening trade on the New York Stock Exchange.