Qwest Communications to Buy Back 22.2 Million Shares From BellSouth

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Qwest Communications

(Q)

will repurchase about 22.2 million of its shares from

BellSouth

(BLS)

for $1 billion in cash, or $45 a share.

BellSouth said the sale will allow it to focus resources on the "high growth areas of data and wireless." BellSouth will now own 51.78 million Qwest shares, or about 3.1% of the company's stock. BellSouth, which is based in Atlanta, said it will purchase $250 million of services and products from Qwest over the next five years.

Shares of BellSouth lost 75 cents, or 1.7%, to $43.13 in recent

New York Stock Exchange

trading. Qwest gained 38 cents, or 0.8%, to $47 on the Big Board.