Qwest confirms talks with 'major' telco

Qwest Communications International late on Sunday confirmed that it has held discussions with "a major telecommunications company," about a possible acquisition of Qwest and US West.

Qwest's confirmation came in the wake of numerous media reports Friday that it was holding discussions with German carrier Deutsche Telekom AG. According to those reports, talks with Deutsche Telekom were threatening to prevent or change the nearly-completed merger of Qwest with Denver, Colorado-based carrier US West.

In its statement, however, Qwest Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Naccio said the deal with US West is not under threat.

"The merger agreement with US West is still in place and Qwest is continuing to take the steps required under the agreement to close the US West merger," Naccio said in the statement.

US West "has been made aware that such discussions have occurred," Naccio said, adding that Qwest will not enter into a deal with the telecommunications company unless it also reaches agreement for the acquisition of US West on terms acceptable to it.

A possible deal with the unnamed telecommunications company also has the support of Qwest's main shareholder, Philip Anschutz, Qwest also said.

Neither Qwest or Anschutz plans to make any further statements before either a definitive agreement is reached or the talks are ended, Qwest said.

Deutsche Telekom, whose offices were closed for a local holiday, could not be immediately reached today for comment.

For its part, US West reportedly has sent a letter to Qwest's general counsel expressing its concern that the carrier is not being informed about the discussions taking place which appear to violate its merger agreement with Qwest, according to a report from Reuters.