Arkansas became CenturyTel's second largest state in terms of access lines served with the purchase of 230,500 GTE lines in that state. CenturyTel also bought 127,000 GTE lines in Missouri.
CenturyTel became the second largest provider in Wisconsin with the purchase of about 133,000 additional lines in 77 exchanges. In two separate transactions with Verizon, CenturyTel spent about $195 million for an outright purchase of 70,000 access lines in 42 exchanges. The company also partnered with Telephone USA of Wisconsin, LLC to buy 62,650 lines in 35 additional exchanges for about $170 million.
CenturyTel acquired CSW Net, Inc. of Russellville, Arkansas.
The company successfully defeated a hostile take-over attempt by ALLTEL, Inc.
Founder and Chairman of the Board Clarke M. Williams died following a lengthy illness. CenturyTel's Board of Directors elected Glen F. Post, III as his successor and new Chairman.
The company expanded operations to 22 states with the acquisition of about 300,000 Verizon access lines in Alabama.
CenturyTel sold its wireless business to ALLTEL, entering a new era as a leading U.S. pure-play rural local exchange carrier.
The company bought about 354,000 Verizon access lines in Missouri, bringing the total access lines served nationwide to nearly 2.5 million.
The November 25 issue of Business Week ranked CenturyTel 16th among the 100 top information technology companies and ahead of all other U.S.-based telecommunication companies. Rankings were based on revenues, sales growth, profitability and stock appreciation.
In June, CenturyTel purchased Digital Teleport, Incorporated's 5,700 route mile fiber network -- of which 3,200 miles were lit -- in portions of Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee. CenturyTel renamed the company LightCore.
CenturyTel purchased the Midwest Fiber Optic Network (MFON) from Level 3 Communications, Inc. in December. This system became the regional backbone for a number of carriers, including CenturyTel, in Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois.
In February, CenturyTel initiated a stock repurchase program allowing it to repurchase up to an aggregate of $400 million of either its common stock or convertible equity units.
In December, CenturyTel announced completion of its $400 million stock repurchase program, returning more than $430 million through share repurchases and cash dividends.
The company invested $438 million to repurchase 12.9 million shares of common stock under an Accelerated Share Repurchase program, which mitigated the dilutive effect of equity units settled in May, 2005.
In June, CenturyTel completed its acquisition of fiber networks in 16 markets -- primarily in the central United States -- from KMC Telecom Holdings, Inc. (KMC). With this purchase, CenturyTel added key markets to its footprint across Alabama (Huntsville and Montgomery), Indiana (Fort Wayne), Kansas (Topeka), Louisiana (Baton Rouge), Michigan (Lansing and Ann Arbor), Minnesota (Eden Prairie), Mississippi (Biloxi/Gulfport), Ohio (Akron, Dayton and Toledo), Tennessee (Chattanooga), Texas (Corpus Christi and Longview) and Wisconsin (Madison).
In July, CenturyTel completed the Accelerated Share Repurchase program announced in 2005.
In May, CenturyTel sold all of its assets in Arizona to Hopi Telecommunications, Inc. (HTI), exiting the state as a service provider. At the time of the sale, CenturyTel served three exchanges with approximately 2,000 customers.
CenturyTel expanded operations in Alabama and Illinois and into Georgia and North Carolina with the acquisition of approximately 165,000 access lines and a 2,400-mile-long fiber network from Madison River Communications.
In October, CenturyTel agreed to acquire Embarq Corporation for approximately $5.8 billion in stock based on the October 24, 2008, closing price of CenturyTel's common stock and the assumption of approximately $5.8 billion of debt. Embarq traces its roots back to 1899, when Cleyson Brown formed the Brown Telephone Company in Abilene, Kansas. By 1991, the company was known as Sprint. In December, 2004, Sprint announced a merger with wireless provider Nextel and its subsequent plan to spin off its Local Telecommunications Division (LTD) into an independent company. The spin-off, Embarq Corporation, was formed on May 17, 2006, with its first day of trading on the NYSE on May 18, 2006. Embarq served parts of 18 states, including Nevada (Las Vegas), Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.
CenturyTel announced a new dividend policy increasing its quarterly dividend from $.0675 to $.70 per share beginning in the third quarter 2008.
On July 1, CenturyTel completed its acquisition of Embarq Corporation in a tax free, stock-for-stock transaction, creating one of the leading communications companies in the United States. Simultaneously, the company began operating under the name CenturyLink, with Admiral William A. Owens as Chairman of the Board and Glen F. Post III as Chief Executive Officer and President.
The benefits of consolidating these two successful companies included the creation of an industry-leading communications provider; an expanded suite of products and solutions for our communities; enhanced employee opportunities over time from a larger company; greater financial strength and stability; and the uniting of an experienced, capable leadership team.
This acquisition positioned the combined company as the largest independent telecommunications provider and fourth largest telecommunications provider – based on access lines – in the United States.