Telecom's Merger Fever

S&P says the next wave of consolidation could be among telecom operators CenturyTel and Commonwealth Telephone. The targets: smaller rural properties

In the telecommunications sector, mergers are the trend of the moment. Though there has been a rash of combinations between the large national and regional telecom service providers, rural operators such as CenturyTel (CTL) and Commonwealth Telephone (CTCO) could be ready to do some deals with smaller outfits, says Todd Rosenbluth, who follows telecom services stocks for Standard & Poor's Equity Research. "We believe the next wave of consolidation is likely to be focused more on the smaller rural properties and see the large independent rural providers such as CenturyTel as being among the acquirers," he says.

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