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Qwest, US West get merger approval in Colorado

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission approves the Qwest Communications and US West merger without substantial conditions, though it orders US West to pay $12.9 million for poor service.

DENVER--Qwest Communications and US West said the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved their merger without substantial conditions, though it separately ordered US West to refund $12.9 million for poor service to customers.

The PUC recognized benefits to consumers and the public in signing off on the companies' $45.2 billion combination, which shareholders approved in November, Qwest and US West said. Colorado is the first state in US West's service area to clear the merger.

Qwest and US West agreed to combine in July. Qwest gives US West a national network and advanced data and Internet services, while US West brings Qwest 25 million customers in 14 states and the local phone lines into their homes that can also deliver video and fast Internet access.

"Colorado's review should serve as a blueprint for others to follow," Qwest chairman and chief executive Joseph Nacchio said in a statement.

Separately, the PUC said in a statement that US West failed to meet minimum standards for repair response time, the number of allowable trouble reports, the speed of answering calls to its business offices and the provision of timely service from Jan. 1, 1998 through April 22, 1999. It ordered the company to refund $12.9 million to affected customers.

The Denver-based companies expect their combination to close by mid-2000. Shares of US West rose 1 to 66.13 and Qwest rose 2.5 to 39.5.

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