GTE announces agreement to sell certain local telephone properties in Missouri to Spectra Communications Group, LLC

IRVING, Texas - GTE Network Services today announced it has reached an agreement to sell 116,149 domestic access lines in Missouri to Spectra Communications Group, LLC, of Atlanta, Ga. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Spectra Communications is a newly formed corporation controlled by Spectronics Corporation, an Atlanta, Ga.-based, African American-owned full-service telecommunications contractor that for the past 10 years has specialized in systems design, engineering and construction for voice, data, and cable networks. Other investors in Spectra include CenturyTel, Inc., a regional telecommunications company headquartered in Monroe, La., and Local Exchange Carriers (LEC), LLC, a Kansas City, Mo.-based private equity company.

Dorothy Rollins, founder and chairman of Spectra Communications Group, said: "Spectronics Corporation's success in delivering quality telecommunications services gave us the opportunity to move forward into new, exciting areas. When we began thinking about where we wanted to take our business, providing service to the consumer made perfect sense. GTE's offering of the Missouri lines was announced at the right time, and we knew we had a match."

By agreeing to purchase 107 of GTE's telephone exchanges in Missouri, Spectra Communications will become the first African American-controlled firm to have a majority stake in a U.S.-based local exchange telecommunications company. The transaction is part of GTE's previously announced initiative to sell approximately 1.6 million of its telephone lines in the United States. It includes 138 GTE employees in Missouri.

In addition to their equity investments, CenturyTel and LEC will provide the new company operational, financial, and management support. Two weeks ago, in an unrelated transaction, CenturyTel agreed to purchase all of GTE's 213, 651 customer access lines in Arkansas.

"We are very pleased to reach an agreement with Spectra Communications," said John Appel, president-GTE Network Services. "Spectra's leaders have chosen capable teammates for operational and financial support, and they have committed to providing jobs and ensuring fair and equitable treatment of the GTE employees in Missouri who are affected by this agreement. The moves they have made reflect a strong commitment to success.

"And, for GTE, this transaction is another positive step toward achieving our stated goal of generating more than $3 billion in after-tax proceeds," Appel said.

Since May, GTE has announced agreements to sell:

  • 186,839 GTE customer access lines in Arizona, California, and Minnesota to Citizens Utilities,
  • 20,564 access lines in Alaska to the Alaska Telephone Exchange Acquisition Corporation (ATEAC), a consortium of four Alaska-based companies,
  • 213,651 access lines in Arkansas to CenturyTel,
  • 280,422 access lines in Iowa to Iowa Network Services, Inc.,
  • GTE Government Systems, except for the Information Systems Division, to General Dynamics, and
  • GTE Airfone to Oak Hill Capital Partners.

GTE intends to use the proceeds from the sale of these assets to help pay for its recent purchase of Ameritech wireless properties in Illinois and Missouri and to fund future strategic initiatives.

Rollins said: "Spectra will offer local, personalized service to create new relationships with its customers in Missouri. We are confident our commitment to a culture of excellence in the workplace will enable Spectra to provide the caliber of service to our new employees and customers in Missouri that they've come to expect from GTE."

After the sale of the Missouri properties closes, GTE will continue to own and operate 97 exchanges serving 325,047 customer access lines in Missouri. Customers will see no changes in the rates and services provided by GTE in the foreseeable future. The deal also does not affect GTE's offerings of long distance, Internet and wireless services to Missouri customers.

Approval of the sale is required by the Missouri Public Service Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the U.S. Department of Justice. The closing of the sale and transfer of GTE operations to Spectra Communications is expected to be complete in 2000.

About GTE

With 1998 revenues of more than $25 billion, GTE is a leading telecommunications provider with one of the industry's broadest arrays of products and services. In the United States, GTE provides local service in 28 states and wireless service in 17 states, as well as nationwide long-distance, directory, and internetworking services ranging from dial-up Internet access for residential and small-business consumers to Web-based applications for Fortune 500 companies. Outside the United States, the company serves customers on five continents. Additional information about GTE can be obtained at http://www.gte.com.

About Spectronics

Spectronics Corporation is an Atlanta, Ga.-based, African American-owned full-service telecommunications contractor that for the past 10 years has specialized in systems design, engineering and construction for voice, data, and cable networks.

About CenturyTel

CenturyTel, Inc. provides integrated communications services including local exchange, wireless, long distance, Internet access and security monitoring services to more than two million customers in 21 states. The company, headquartered in Monroe, La., is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CTL. CenturyTel is the ninth largest local exchange telephone company, based on access lines, and the 10th largest cellular company, based on population equivalents owned, in the United States. Visit CenturyTel's corporate website at http://www.centurytel.com.

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Editor's Note:

Maps of the affected exchanges can be obtained by selecting Missouri Maps.