Neustar Contract Queried by Agency Urged to Pick Ericsson

U.S. regulators asked for public input on whether to award Ericsson AB a contract for telephone-numbers management and end an exclusive arrangement with Neustar Inc. that dates to 1997.

An advisory group recommended in April that a five-year contract should be awarded to Ericsson’s Telcordia iconectiv unit when the current agreement with Neustar expires next year. The Federal Communications Commission in a notice today asked for comments by July 25 on the recommendation.

“We look forward to a prompt decision after the comment period ends,” Joel Fisher, a spokesman for iconectiv, said in an e-mail. The recommendation from a federal advisory committee shows “confidence in our ability to be an exceptional partner.”

John Buckley, a spokesman for Neustar, in an e-mail declined to comment.

The contract to help phone-service subscribers keep their numbers when switching providers brought in $446.4 million last year, or 49 percent of revenue, Sterling, Virginia-based Neustar said in a securities filing. The contract, which involves management of more than 500 million phone numbers, made up 50 percent and 60 percent of revenue in the two preceding years.

A confidential e-mail revealing the advisory group’s advice on awarding the new contract appeared on the FCC’s website on June 6. The FCC hasn’t announced a decision and isn’t legally bound by the advisory group’s recommendation.

Neustar lost 8.4 percent to $24.43 at 4:15 p.m. New York time, its lowest price since September 2011. The shares fell 47 percent this year through last week.

(Updates with comment from iconectiv in third paragraph.)
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