Verizon Won't Let Market Woes Stall Fiber or Its Alltel Deal

As the economic crisis continues to wend its way through world markets, telecom companies such as Qwest have begun putting the brakes on some of their growth initiatives. But if recent comments by CEO Ivan Seidenberg are any indication, Verizon Communications isn’t making retrenchment plans. Speaking at the Dow Jones-Nielsen Media and Money conference earlier this week, Seidenberg reportedly told the crowd that Verizon wasn’t worried about the fluctuating stock market and was going ahead with its previously announced plans. According to Deal Journal, he said:

“We have to retool the work force. We’re not going to do it by hunkering down. We’re going to do it by reinvesting…we can’t allow this period in which we feel bad about dislocations to take away from what America should be doing, which is creating competitive edge. If we ever lose our nerve to continue to take risk, then we’re in a lot of trouble.”

So bring on the fiber and bring on Alltel! Seidenberg is pressing the FCC to approve Verizon’s proposed $28.1 billion buy of the cell phone maker service provider that will require the company to take on $22.2 billion of Alltell’s debt and refinance another $7.7 billion coming due this year. The FCC is expected to vote on the merger at its Nov. 4 public meeting. As for fiber, Verizon’s still pushing FiOS to new markets as part of its $18 billion plan to offer fiber to the home. Seidenberg may be content to take risks despite the stock market’s gyrations, but given the debt Verizon will need to take on, I think he might be wearing rose-colored glasses.

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