Verizon may sell its yellow directory

July 08, 2006|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Verizon Communications Inc. said yesterday that it was preparing to spin off its yellow pages division before the end of the year so it can focus more on its wireless, broadband, and television divisions.

Verizon said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had not ruled out selling some or all of the division, known as Verizon Directories, which includes SuperPages.com.

In December, Verizon said it was looking to unload the division, which financial analysts say could bring in at least $14 billion. Verizon is expected to use the money to help expand the fiber-optic network it is building or to buy back some of the 45 percent of Verizon Wireless that is owned by Vodafone Group PLC.

"They are certainly interested in giving themselves as much room on the balance sheet as they can," said Christopher King, a telecommunications analyst at Stifel Nicolaus.

This year, Verizon said it would sell its holdings in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is also considering selling some of its local phone lines in New England. The company has sold its phone business in Hawaii.

Verizon has not identified any potential buyers for its directories business, but financial analysts expect private equity firms to be among the bidders.

The company will continue to publish and distribute its white page directories, as required by state utility commissions.

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