February 5, 2015 / 12:09 AM / 5 years ago

Verizon to sell assets worth $10 billion to Frontier: source

A man uses his mobile phone in central London September 2, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Verizon Communications is close to selling wireline assets worth $10 billion to regional telephone operator Frontier Communications Corp, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The largest U.S. carrier by subscribers, Verizon has been investing heavily in growing its wireless business while reducing spend on its broadband Internet and telephone services. Verizon has been exploring steps to speed up its debt repayment in recent months.

The companies did a similar deal in 2009, when Verizon sold 4.8 million rural phone lines to Frontier for $8.6 billion in stock and cash, to do away with that business and focus on wireless and broadband services.

A Verizon spokesman declined to comment while a representative for Frontier could not be reached.

Verizon purchased 181 licenses worth $10.4 billion in a government sale of wireless airwaves for mobile data that closed last week. That came on top of $130 billion it spent in 2013 to buy from Vodafone the 45 percent in its wireless unit that it did not already own.

The wireline assets being sold to Frontier are the latest in a series of non-core assets Verizon has sold in recent months. It is also looking to sell $5 billion in wireless towers, Reuters previously reported.

Verizon Chief Executive Lowell McAdam said on a January call with investors that “there are certain assets on the wireline side that we think would be better off in somebody else’s hands so we can focus our energy in a little bit more narrow geography.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Verizon is close to selling the wireline assets to Frontier on Wednesday.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York and Malathi Nayak in San Francisco; Editing by Christian Plumb

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