IRVING, Tx. - GTE Network Services announced today its plans to sell or trade about 1.6 million of the 21.5 million total domestic local access lines that the company held at year-end 1997.
The properties offered include all GTE wireline exchanges in the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma - and some of the GTE exchanges in California, Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin.
This repositioning effort is part of an overall corporate plan announced in April 1998 to generate after-tax proceeds of $2-$3 billion to be re-deployed into other higher growth strategic initiatives. The effort is unrelated to GTE's proposed merger with Bell Atlantic, which was announced July 28. In addition, the company noted that it plans to continue to offer its other products, including long distance and internet access services, in these markets.
"The offering of these properties for sale or trade is consistent with GTE's strategic objectives and has generated a great deal of interest from other telephone service providers," said John Appel, president-GTE Network Services.
More than 200 prospective bidders who have already expressed interest will soon receive letters providing more detail on the properties GTE is making available.
"Preference will be given to bidders whose proposals involve purchasing or trading an entire regional cluster," Appel said. "We will also consider proposals for individual states within those clusters, but it is unlikely that we will accept offers for individual exchanges."
Appel emphasized that GTE is looking for transaction partners that share the company's strong commitment to customers, employees and communities. Topping the list of requirements is the potential buyers' demonstrated concern for and commitment to the affected employees. "Bidders must assure us that our employees will be treated fairly," Appel said.
GTE said its goal is to reach definitive agreements for all of the properties by mid-1999. Transition of the properties to the buyers will occur during the remainder of 1999 and the Year 2000.
With 1997 revenues of more than $23 billion, GTE is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies and a leading provider of integrated telecommunications services. In the United States, GTE provides local service in 28 states and wireless service in 17 states; nationwide long-distance service and internetworking services ranging from dial-up Internet access for residential and small business consumers to Web-based applications for Fortune 500 companies; as well as video service in selected markets.
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