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Qwest, after losing the battle for MCI is not averse to being taken out itself. “We’re looking at every opportunity as we look at the consolidation that is going on in our industry… And that’s all I’d better say about that,” Qwest chairman and CEO Richard Notebaert said at the Executives’ Club of Chicago. He also said he was frustrated by MCI’s unwillingness to take the Qwest offer seriously. But back to the buyout question. With $10.5 billion in debt, the company is still a high risk proposition for anyone to acquire. The best recourse for them would be to merge with Sprint’s local business, and try and add more heft to its operations by nibbling at smaller players. By doing so, it can make itself attractive enough for a decent offer from either BellSouth or SBC. The good news is that some of Q’s states have the new growth demographics working in their favor.