11:33 AM

Verizon May Sell Off Yellow Pages

The telco has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but says it will make a final decision on the matter by year-end.

Seeking fresh capital to finance its drive into new high tech markets, Verizon Communications said Friday that it has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to spin off its print and Internet Yellow Pages directories.

The former Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC) said it could dispose of the directories operation by the end of the year.

In a statement, the company said: "Verizon has not yet made a final decision on whether a spin-off will occur, but the company continues to expect to complete a disposition of its directories publishing operations " which could include the spin-off, a sale, or other transaction, or combination of these alternatives " by the end of 2006."

Previously called Verizon Information Services (VIS), the directories unit is now called Verizon Directories Disposition Corporation, Verizon said. Some 7,100 people are employed in the operation, which publishes several hundred directories. The unit had revenue of $3.45 billion in 2005.

The bidding price for the unit may be dropping. The Wall Street Journal said in December that a sale of the unit could bring as much as $17 billion while the newspaper Friday said the sale "could fetch as much as $13 billion."

Verizon has put its older low-tech businesses on the block as it concentrates on building out its broadband DSL, fiber optic networks, and its mobile phone provider, Verizon Wireless. Verizon has said it plans to spend $20 billion on its fiber optics networks and it has publicly coveted Vodafone Group's stake in Verizon Wireless, which could cost several billion more. Vodafone owns 45 percent of highly-profitable Verizon Wireless.

In its Form 10 filing with the SEC, Verizon said it details the proposed directories spin-off, "which would create a new, publicly traded company with management independent from Verizon."

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