Level 3 Communications 10-K 2009
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Commission file number: 0-15658
Level 3 Communications, Inc.
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
registered pursuant to section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ý No o
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes o No ý
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. ý Yes o No
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§ 229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes o No ý
As of June 30, 2008 the aggregate market value of common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant approximated $3.1 billion based upon the closing price of the common stock as reported on the NASDAQ Global Select Market as of the close of business on that date. Shares of common stock held by each executive officer and director and by each entity that owns 10% or more of the outstanding common stock have been excluded in that such persons may be deemed to be affiliates. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.
Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the registrant's classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
List hereunder the following documents if incorporated by reference and the Part of the Form 10-K (e.g., Part I, Part II, etc.) into which the document is incorporated: (1) Any annual report to security holders; (2) Any proxy or information statement; and (3) Any prospectus filed pursuant to Rule 424(b) or (c) under the Securities Act of 1933. The listed documents should be clearly described for identification purposes (e.g., annual report to security holders for fiscal year ended December 24, 1980).
Portions of the Company's Definitive Proxy Statement for the 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K
Table of Contents
Unless the context otherwise requires, when we use the words "Level 3," "we," "us" or "our company" in this Form 10-K, we are referring to Level 3 Communications, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and its subsidiaries, unless it is clear from the context or expressly stated that these references are only to Level 3 Communications, Inc. In this Form 10-K, we may refer to our former subsidiary Software Spectrum, Inc. and its subsidiaries as "Software Spectrum."
The Level 3 logo and Level 3 are registered service marks of our wholly owned subsidiary, Level 3 Communications, LLC, in the United States and other countries. All rights are reserved. This Form 10-K refers to trade names and trademarks of other companies. The mention of these trade names and trademarks in this Form 10-K is made with due recognition of the rights of these companies and without any intent to misappropriate those names or marks. All other trade names and trademarks appearing in this Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners.
This Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements and information that are based on the beliefs of our management as well as assumptions made by and information currently available to us. When we use the words "anticipate", "believe", "plan", "estimate" and "expect" and similar expressions in this Form 10-K, as they relate to us or our management, we are intending to identify forward-looking statements. These statements reflect our current views with respect to future events and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions.
Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, our actual results may vary materially from those described in this document. These forward-looking statements include, among others, statements concerning:
These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, including financial, regulatory, environmental, industry growth and trend projections, that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the statements. The most important factors that could prevent us from achieving our stated goals include, but are not limited to, the effects on our business and our customers of the current economic turmoil and the disruptions in the financial markets as well as our failure to:
Except as required by applicable law and regulations, we undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Further disclosures that we make on related subjects in our additional filings with the SEC or Securities and Exchange Commission should be consulted. For further information regarding the risks and uncertainties that may affect our future results, please review the information set forth below under "ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS."
Unless the context otherwise requires, when we use the words "Level 3," "we," "us" or "our company" in this Form 10-K, we are referring to Level 3 Communications, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and its subsidiaries, unless it is clear from the context or expressly stated that these references are only to Level 3 Communications, Inc. Throughout this Form 10-K we use various industry terms and abbreviations, which we have defined in the Glossary of Terms at the end of this description of our business.
Through our operating subsidiaries, we engage primarily in the communications business.
We are a facilities based provider (that is, a provider that owns or leases a substantial portion of the plant, property and equipment necessary to provide its services) of a broad range of integrated communications services. We have created our communications network generally by constructing our own assets, but also through a combination of purchasing and leasing other companies and facilities. Our network is an advanced, international, facilities based communications network. We designed our network to provide communications services, which employ and take advantage of rapidly improving underlying optical, Internet Protocol, computing and storage technologies.
Market and Technology Opportunity. We believe that ongoing technology advances in both optical and Internet Protocol technologies have been revolutionizing the communications industry. We also believe that these advances have, and will continue to, facilitate decreases in unit costs for communications service providers that are able to most effectively take advantage of these technology advances. Service providers that can effectively take advantage of technology improvements and reduce unit costs will be able to offer lower prices, which, we believe, will stimulate substantial increases in the demand for communications services. We believe there are two primary factors that are continuing to drive this market dynamic:
traditional broadcast entertainment as well as distribution of software, audio and video content using physical media delivered using motor transportation systems. An example of this dynamic is the use of the Internet for the distribution of video entertainment.
We believe that as communications services improve more rapidly than these alternative content distribution systems, significant demand will be generated from these sources of information. We also believe that high elasticity of demand from both these new applications and the substitution for existing distribution systems will continue for the foreseeable future. We believe that while high demand elasticity will be manifested over time, government regulation and communications supply chain inefficiencies may cause realization of demand to be delayed.
We also believe that there are significant implications that result from this market dynamic. These implications include the following:
Our Communications Business Strategy
We are seeking to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the expanded coverage of our communications network as well as the significant and rapid advancements in optical and Internet Protocol technologies. Key elements of our strategy include:
Our communications service offerings include:
The availability of these services varies by location.
For several years we have been developing services that take advantage of the investment that we have made in our network and that generally target large, existing markets for communications services. We have also expanded our existing markets for communications services through the acquisitions we completed in 2006 and early 2007 that enabled us to offer services directly to enterprise or business customers. Through these efforts we have increased significantly our addressable market by targeting new customers as well as new voice and data services that take advantage of the geographic coverage and cost advantages of our network.
With respect to our wholesale customers, we provide these customers with several options for accessing our intercity networkincluding our metropolitan networks and colocation facilities. Our metropolitan networks enable us to connect directly to points of high traffic aggregation. These traffic aggregation facilities are typically locations where our customers wish to interconnect with our intercity network. Our metropolitan networks allow us to extend our network services to these aggregation points at low costs. With respect to our enterprise customers, we provide these customers with access to our network either by directly connecting to their location or by serving that location with a connection from another communications services provider. As of December 31, 2008, we have:
We believe that providing colocation services in facilities directly connected to our network attracts communications intensive customers by allowing us to offer those customers reduced bandwidth costs, rapid provisioning of additional bandwidth, interconnection with other third party networks and improved network performance.
Additionally, our metropolitan networks allow us to compete for certain local communications traffic, which constitutes a significant percentage of the communications market. As of December 31, 2008, we had secured approximately 6.9 million square feet of space for our Gateway and transmission facilities and other technical space and had completed the build-out of approximately 4.6 million square feet of this space.
software and hardware. This approach is intended to provide us with the ability to purchase the most cost effective network equipment from multiple vendors and allow us to deploy new technology more rapidly and effectively.
As we seek to expand the addressable market for our services, we also evaluate opportunities that would expand our service capabilities. Transactions that would be included in this category would expand the geographic scope of our network or would provide capabilities for additional services or distribution channels. For these opportunities, we generally consider whether the targeted company's distribution strategy is consistent with our strategy and whether management
believes that the target's current and/or future revenues can be significantly increased and/or expenses can be significantly reduced as a result of a combination with our operations. Generally these acquisition opportunities will not provide the same level of synergy opportunity that the category of acquisitions described in the paragraph above provide to us.
We believe that the following strengths will assist us in implementing our strategy:
The availability of these services varies by location.
For several years we have been developing services that take advantage of the investment that we have made in our network and that generally target large, existing markets for communications services. We have also expanded our existing markets for communications services through our acquisitions that enabled us to offer services directly to enterprise or business customers. Through these efforts we have increased significantly our addressable market by adding new targeted customers as well as new voice and data services that take advantage of the geographic coverage and cost advantages of our network.
points of high traffic aggregation and customer locations and reduce our costs for the termination of our customers' communications traffic on other carriers' networks.
Our Communications Services
Customer Focused Organization
We operate the customer interacting or customer facing aspects of our communications business in four groups. We believe that this structure enables us to focus more effectively on the needs of our customers. These four groups are:
We believe this structure enables those employees in these customer facing roles to develop and deliver high quality communications services that are based on the needs of the customers that the group is seeking to serve. Each of these groups is supported by dedicated employees in sales and segment marketing. Each of the groups is also supported by centralized service or product management and development, general marketing, network services, engineering, information technology, and corporate functions including legal, finance, strategy and human resources. It is through the Wholesale Markets, Business Markets, Content Markets and European Markets groups that we offer our comprehensive range of communications services.
Wholesale Markets Group. The Wholesale Markets Group is focused on delivering communications services to meet the high bandwidth needs of many of the largest global communications services providers on a wholesale basis. The Wholesale Markets Group's customers typically integrate or package our services into their own products and services to offer voice, video and data services to their end-user customers and in some instances to satisfy their own internal needs.
The market segments that the Wholesale Markets Group addresses include:
Business Markets Group. The Business Markets Group is focused on delivering communications services to meet the telecommunications needs of: enterprises; higher education institutions and academic consortia; and state and local governments. We also focus on local and regional carriers, ISPs, enhanced service providers, application service providers, wireless providers, mobile virtual network operators, VoIP providers as well as datacenters and hosting facilities. The Business Markets Group focuses on providing its targeted customers with the full suite of Internet Protocol and data services, colocation and voice services.
Content Markets Group. As we believe that one of the largest sources of future incremental demand for communications services will be derived from customers that are seeking to distribute their feature rich content or video over the Internet, the Content Markets Group focuses on offering solutions ranging from end-to-end communications services to individual building block services to meet
the content distribution needs of its customers. Customers that the Content Markets Group serves include:
European Markets Group. The European Markets Group focuses on the communications needs of European customers and services in Europe for customers located outside of Europe. The European Markets Group's target customers are similar to the target customers of the Wholesale Markets Group and the Content Markets Group.
We offer a comprehensive range of communications services, which currently include the following services. All of these services are available to customers of each of the customer facing groups, however their availability varies by location. The following is an overview description of some of the services that we offer.
store content to our network as part of an optimized delivery platform. In addition to our delivery services, our patented Intelligent Traffic Management service enables customers to set rules to dynamically route traffic to meet failover or dual vendor objectives.
For a discussion of certain geographic information regarding our revenue from external customers and long-lived assets, please see the notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements appearing elsewhere in this Form 10-K. For a discussion of our communications revenue, please also see Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations appearing later in this Form 10-K. Our management continues to review our existing lines of business and service offerings to determine how those lines of business and service offerings assist with our focus on the delivery of communications services and meeting our financial objectives. This exercise takes place both with respect to integration activities and in the ordinary course of our business. To the extent that certain lines of business or service offerings are not considered to be compatible with the delivery of communications services or with obtaining our financial objectives, we may exit those lines of business or stop offering those services in part or in whole.
Our communications network
Our network is an advanced, international, facilities based communications network. Today, we primarily provide services over our own facilities. At December 31, 2008, our network encompasses:
Intercity Networks. Our approximately 67,000 mile fiber optic intercity network in North America, which we expect will be approximately 42,000 miles after we complete our integration of acquired companies, consists of the following:
Initial installation of optical fiber strands designed to accommodate dense wave division multiplexing transmission technology. In addition, we believe that the installation of newer optical fibers will allow a combination of greater wavelengths of light per strand, higher transmission speeds and longer physical spacing between network electronics. We also believe that each new generation of optical fiber will allow increases in the performance of these network design aspects and will therefore enable lower unit costs.
During the first quarter of 2001, we completed our initial construction activities relating to our North American intercity network. Also during 2001, we completed the migration of customer traffic from our original leased capacity network to our completed North America intercity network. Deployment of the North American intercity network was accomplished through simultaneous construction efforts in multiple locations, with different portions being completed at different times. In 2003, we added approximately 2,985 miles to our North America intercity network as part of the Genuity transaction, and in 2005, we added approximately 30,000 miles (including IRUs) to our
intercity network as part of the WilTel Communications transaction. In 2006 and January 2007, we added approximately 26,000 miles (including IRUs) to our North America intercity network as part of the various acquisitions during that period.
In Europe, we have completed construction of our fiber optic intercity network with characteristics similar to those of the North American intercity network in a multiple ring architecture. During 2000, we completed the construction of Ring 1 of our European network. Ring 1, which is approximately 1,900 miles, connects the major European cities of Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Brussels and London and was operational at December 31, 2000. Also in 2000, we acquired multiple conduits from another operator, configured in a ring in Germany which we call Ring 2. Ring 2, which is approximately 1,650 miles, connects the major German cities of Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich. Ring 2 became operational during the first quarter of 2001. Subsequently, we created four additional fiber based rings generally through IRU acquisitions from other operators to connect our expanded operations in Europe that are described below and to add additional markets to the network. The first additional ring, added in 2006, is approximately 2,150 miles and connects Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo and the second additional ring is approximately 1,700 miles and connects Milan, Zurich and Geneva. The third additional ring, added in 2007, covers Central and Eastern Europe, and is approximately 1,500 miles connecting markets such as Prague, Vienna and Budapest. The fourth additional ring is approximately 1,900 miles and connects Barcelona, Madrid and Paris.
During 2002, we completed an expansion of our European operations to six additional cities. Our expansion to these additional locations was facilitated through the acquisition of available capacity from other carriers in the region. During 2003, we completed an expansion of our European operations to five additional cities. In addition, during 2004, we completed an expansion of our European operations to two cities. During 2005, we completed an expansion of our European operations to one city. During 2006, we obtained dark fiber primarily in those cities currently served by leased wavelength capacity and additionally in 2006 we completed an expansion of our European operations to 9 additional cities. During 2007, we obtained dark fiber in three cities that had been served by leased wavelength capacity and additionally in 2007 we completed an expansion of our European operations to 10 additional cities. The dark fiber combined with appropriate transmission equipment enables us to sell a full suite of transport and IP services in these markets. In 2008, we continued our European expansion to two additional cities using leased wavelength capacity. We expect to continue our expansion in 2009 to one or two additional cities.
Our European network is linked to our North American intercity network by leased capacity and by the Level 3 transatlantic cable system, which was completed and placed into service during 2000 and originally had a design capacity of 1.28 Tbps. The deployment of the systemwhich we refer to as the Yellow systemwas completed pursuant to a co-build agreement announced in February 2000, whereby Global Crossing Ltd. participated in the construction of, and obtained a 50% ownership interest in the Yellow system. Under the co-build agreement, Level 3 and Global Crossing Ltd. each now separately own two of the four fiber pairs on the Yellow system. The Yellow system was recently upgraded and our two fiber pairs have a current capacity of 550 Gbps and we believe has a theoretical upgrade capacity to 1.8 Tbps assuming both fiber pairs are fully upgraded.
We also acquired additional capacity on Global Crossing Ltd.'s transatlantic cable, Atlantic Crossing 1, during 2000 to serve as redundant capacity for our fiber pairs on the Yellow system. We also own capacity in the TAT14 cable system. In connection with the WilTel acquisition, we have secured additional capacity on Atlantic Crossing 1 and on TAT-14. In 2006, we purchased 300 Gigabits of transatlantic capacity with the right to purchase 300 Gigabits of additional optional capacity from Apollo Submarine Cable System Ltd. In January 2007 we purchased 150 Gigabits of the additional optional capacity available from Apollo Submarine Cable System Ltd, 150 Gigabits in May 2007 and an additional 100 Gigabits in November 2007. We are also an owner on the Japan-US, and China-US cable systems, an IRU holder on Southern Cross cable system as well as an owner on the Americas II
cable and an IRU holder on the Arcos system. We also own capacity on the Reliance-Globacom transatlantic system Flag Atlantic-1 and capacity on the Hibernia transatlantic cable system.
Local Market Infrastructure. Our local facilities include fiber optic metropolitan networks connecting our intercity network and Gateways to buildings housing communications-intensive end users and traffic aggregation pointsincluding ILEC and CLEC central offices, long distance carrier points-of-presence or POPs, cable head-ends, wireless providers' facilities and Internet peering and transit facilities. As of December 31, 2008, we had in the aggregate approximately 7,900 traffic aggregation points and buildings connected to our metropolitan networks. Our high fiber count metropolitan networks allow us to extend our services directly to our customers' locations at low costs, because the availability of this network infrastructure does not require extensive multiplexing equipment to reach a customer location, which is required in ordinary fiber constrained metropolitan networks.
We had secured approximately 6.9 million square feet of space for our Gateway and transmission facilities as of December 31, 2008, and had completed the buildout of approximately 4.6 million square feet of this space. Our initial Gateway facilities were designed to house local sales staff, operational staff, our transmission and Internet Protocol routing and Softswitch facilities and technical space to accommodate colocation servicesthat is, the colocation of equipment by high-volume Level 3 customers, in an environmentally controlled, secure site with direct access to Level 3's network generally through dual, fault tolerant connections. As a result of our acquisitions, some of our facilities are larger than our initial facilities and were designed to include a smaller percentage of total square feet for our transmission and Internet Protocol routing/Softswitch facilities and a larger percentage of total square feet to support the sale of colocation services. Availability of these services varies by location.
As of December 31, 2008, we had operational, facilities-based, local metropolitan networks in 116 U.S. markets and 9 European markets.
As of December 31, 2008, we also had approximately 145 markets in service in North America and approximately 45 markets in service in Europe.
Our Patent Portfolio
Through acquisitions and through our own research and development, we have created an extensive patent portfolio, consisting of approximately 900 patents and patent applications filed in the United States and around the world. Our patent portfolio includes patents filed in each of the last three decades covering technologies ranging from data and voice services to content distribution to transmission and networking equipment. Most of our issued patents are not scheduled to expire for more than ten years.
In addition to the patents and patent applications we own, we have received licenses to patents held by others, including through a cross-license with IBM, giving us access to technology covered by IBM's approximately 40,000 patents covering many technologies relevant to our business. While patents give us the right to prevent others, particularly competitors, from using our proprietary technologies, patent licenses give us the freedom to operate our business without the risk of interruption from the holder of the patent that has been licensed to us.
We have used our patent portfolio in a number of ways. First, developing or acquiring technologies and receiving the legal right to preclude others from using them may give us a competitive advantage. Second, the breadth and depth of our patent portfolio may deter others, particularly telecommunications operators, from bringing patent infringement claims against us for fear of counter-claim by us. There have been relatively few patent infringements suits brought against us to date. Most of those have been initiated by patent-holding companies who do not operate telecommunications
businesses and who are less likely to be subject to a counter-claim of infringement by us. Finally, the extensiveness of our patent portfolio gives us the option to cross-license with others having similarly broad portfolios on terms acceptable to us, mitigating the risk that others will wish to assert patent infringement claims against us.
We will continue to file new patent applications as we enhance and develop products and services, we will continue to seek opportunities to expand our patent portfolio through strategic acquisitions and licensing, and we will continue to appropriately enforce our patents against infringement by others.
Our Content Delivery Network
Content Delivery Network, or CDN, describes a system of computers networked together across the Internet to provide content to users in the most efficient manner to enable an optimal user experience. In a CDN, nodes or groups of computers are deployed in multiple locations closer to the end user, also known as the "edge of the network" and cooperate with each other to satisfy requests for content by end users, transparently moving content behind the scenes to optimize the delivery process. Requests for content are directed intelligently through sophisticated software applications to nodes that provide optimal performance for end users.
Our content delivery network is a unique configuration of our hosting and network assets located in approximately 17 countries, which is designed to improve the performance, reliability, and reach of web applications.
We believe that as a result of the combination of our CDN assets and our other network infrastructure, we are strongly positioned to grow our market share in the CDN business. This belief is based on several factors.
There are an increasing number of applications for CDN, across many types of customers, particularly Internet-centric businesses and businesses that desire to accommodate increasingly larger file sizes for transmission over the Internet. The media and entertainment industries use CDN services to provide on-demand streaming and live streaming. Social Networking businesses require CDN to provide their customers with fast reliable music and video downloads. Likewise, through the use of CDN, software companies are able to provide software downloads for their customers. Online retailers and advertisers use CDN services to provide images and to download advertisements. Online gaming companies provide for game downloads, applications updates and delivery of demos and trailers through CDN.
Content Distribution Services Architecture
The CDN platform uses our existing physical network and infrastructure, and is composed of the Edge server or computer, which provides caching and streaming functions and the Global server, which provides load balancingthat is, a computer that directs the traffic to the most efficient server to meet the end user's request. The Edge server enables the storage of popular content in a location that is closer to the end user and thereby reduces bandwidth requirements and improves response times for content stored in the cache. The Global server or computer load balancing components of the CDN directs end user requests to the content source that is best able to serve the request of the particular end user, such as routing to the service node that is closest to the end user or to the one with enough capacity to service the request of the end user.
We also transmit audio and video programming for our customers over our fiber-optic network and via satellite. We use our network to carry many live traditional broadcast and cable television events from the site of the event to the network control centers of the broadcasters of the event. These events include live sporting events of the major professional sports leagues. For live events where the location is not known in advance, such as breaking news stories in remote locations, we provide an integrated satellite and fiber-optic network based service to transmit the content to our customers. Most of our customers for these services contract for the service on an event-by-event basis; however, we have some customers who have purchased a dedicated point-to-point service, which enables these customers to transmit programming at any time.
Our communications services sales strategy with respect to our Wholesale Markets Group and Europe is to utilize a direct sales force focused on companies with high bandwidth and/or voice requirements. These businesses include incumbent local exchange carriers, established next generation carriers, international carriers also known as PTTs, major ISPs, broadband cable television operators, major interexchange carriers, wireless carriers, systems integrators, governments, emerging VoIP service providers, calling card providers, conferencing providers and call centers.
With respect to our Business Markets Group, medium to large enterprises will be serviced by a field based direct sales force. Smaller business opportunities are serviced by an inside sales force generally selling pre-defined bundles of services. We also complement our direct sales force with an indirect sales channel of agent partners.
Our communications services sales strategy with respect to the Content Markets Group is also to utilize a direct sales force. Targeted customers include video distribution companies; providers of online gaming and mega-portals; software service providers; social networking providers; and traditional media distribution companies including broadcasters, television networks and sports leagues.
We have in place policies and procedures to review the financial condition of potential and existing customers. We apply these procedures to determine whether collectability of services billed is probable prior to the time that we begin delivering services to a customer. If the financial condition of an existing customer deteriorates to a point where payment for services is in doubt, we will not recognize revenue attributable to that customer until we receive cash. Based on these policies and procedures, we believe our exposure to collection risk within the communications business and the possible effect on our financial statements is limited. We may also experience the effects of the downturns in the economy and specifically the telecommunications industry; however, we believe the concentration of credit risk with respect to receivables is mitigated due to the dispersion of our customer base among geographic areas and remedies provided by terms of contracts and by law.
For the year ended December 31, 2008, our top ten customers represented approximately 31% of our consolidated total revenue. Revenue from our largest customer, AT&T Inc. and its subsidiaries,
represented approximately 12% of our consolidated total revenue for 2008. The next largest customer accounted for approximately 5% of our consolidated total revenue and most of the remaining top ten customers each account for 3% or less of our consolidated total revenue.
In connection with the acquisition of WilTel in December 2005, we acquired a large customer contract between WilTel and SBC Communications, a subsidiary of AT&T. We expect that the revenue generated under this contract will continue to decline over time as SBC Communications migrates its traffic from our network to the merged SBC and AT&T Communications network that SBC Communications acquired from the former AT&T.
Business Support Systems
In order to pursue our sales and distribution strategies, we have developed and are continuing to develop and implement a set of integrated software applications designed to automate our operational processes. These development activities also relate to the integration of the systems that were used by the companies that we have acquired. Through the development of a robust, scalable business support system, we believe that we have the opportunity to develop a competitive advantage relative to traditional telecommunications companies. In addition, we recognize that for the success of certain of our services that some of our business support systems will need to be easily accessible and usable directly by our customers.
We are currently deploying a unified set of simplified processes and systems that are streamlining and synchronizing our service, sales, and operational functions through our "Unity" platform. Unity has been designed to provide improved capability in service catalog management, sales opportunity management, customer management, quoting, order entry, order workflow, physical and logical network inventory management, service management, and financial management. We completed the foundation of our Unity platform processes and systems development objectives at the end of 2008 and we are now focused on operational efficiency improvements and data integrity and migration.
Key design aspects of the business support system development program are:
As of December 31, 2008, we had approximately 5,300 employees. We believe that our success depends in large part on our ability to attract and retain substantial numbers of qualified employees.
The communications industry is highly competitive. A number of factors in recent years have increased the number of competitors in the market. First, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 created opportunities for non-incumbent providers to enter the marketplace. Second, the capital markets responded by making funding more available to new and existing competitors. Third, enthusiasm over the opportunities created by the rapid developments of the Internet led investors and market participants in general to overestimate the rate at which demand for communications services would grow. Finally, the emergence of new IP-based services has created prospects for new entrants with non-traditional business models to compete with legacy providers.
We believe that a confluence of these factors created an unsustainable level of competition in the market. We believe that this was evidenced by both the number of competitors vying for similar business and by the amount of inventory or capacity each brought to the market for many services. The result of these actions was an oversupply of capacity and an intensely competitive environment.
While we believe the current industry structure has improved significantly, we believe that further restructuring is likely. With the growth of communications demand, excess capacity is increasingly being absorbed. Similarly, some form of industry consolidation will continue to occur based on underlying economics. Given the large ongoing fixed costs associated with operating a backbone network, we believe that the natural industry structure will continue to evolve to a more limited number of competitors with each having high traffic scale across their networks.
While we believe that the long-run industry structure will evolve toward that described above, uncertainty surrounds how the existing competitive landscape will evolve toward this new structure. For example, while a number of next-generation and incumbent providers have been consolidated, we believe there are still a number of competitors operating fundamentally poor business models, are resource constrained, and are unlikely to be long-term survivors in their current forms. In addition, while the completed acquisition transactions by AT&T and Verizon have given those companies greater scale and product breadth, the ultimate effect of these transactions on the industry structure is yet to be known.
We believe that each competitor's long-run success in the market will be driven by its available resources (for example, financial, personnel, marketing, customers) and the effectiveness of its business model (for example, service focus and mix, cost effectiveness, ability to adapt to new technologies, channel effectiveness). We recognize that many of our existing and potential competitors in the communications industry have resources significantly greater than ours.
In the short term, the current economic environment may put increased pressure on competitors that lack a strong financial position, and as a result competition may become more intense as these competitors seek to win business in a slower market.
Our primary competitors are long distance carriers, incumbent local exchange carriers, competitive local exchange carriers, PTTs, Content Delivery Network companies, and other companies that provide communications services. The following information identifies some key competitors for each of our product offerings.
Our key competitors for our voice service offerings are other providers of wholesale communications services including AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, Global Crossing and competitive local exchange carriers. Our key competitors for managed modem services are other providers of dial up Internet access including AT&T, Verizon and PAETEC Communications.
For our IP and Data services, we compete with companies that include Verizon, AT&T, Global Crossing and Cogent in North America, and TeliaSonera, Global Crossing and Cogent in Europe.
For transport services, our key competitors in the United States are other facilities based communications companies including AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, tw telecom and XO. In Europe, our key competitors are other carriers such as PTTs, Telia International, Colt, KPN, Belgacom and Global Crossing.
Our key competitors for our colocation services are other facilities based communications companies, and other colocation providers such as web hosting companies and third party colocation companies. In the United States, these companies include Equinix, Savvis, Switch & Data and Internap. In Europe, competitors include Equinix, Global Switch, InterXion, Telecity and Telehouse Europe.
In the enterprise market, our key competitors include incumbent local exchange carriers (such as AT&T, Verizon and Qwest and competitive local exchange carriers.
For content distribution network or CDN services, our key competitors include Akamai Technologies and Limelight Networks.
The communications industry is subject to rapid and significant changes in technology. For instance, recent technological advances permit substantial increases in transmission capacity of both new and existing fiber, and the introduction of new products or emergence of new technologies may reduce the cost or increase the supply of certain services similar to those which we plan on providing. Accordingly, in the future our most significant competitors may be new entrants to the communications industry, whichunlike the traditional incumbent carriers we also compete withare not burdened by an installed base of outmoded or legacy equipment.
The Federal Communications Commission or the FCC has jurisdiction over interstate and international communications services, among other things. The FCC's regulation of common carriers without market power, such as us, is less stringent than its regulation of dominant incumbent local exchange carriers. We have obtained FCC approval to land our transatlantic cable in the United States. We have obtained FCC authorization to provide international services on a facilities and resale basis as well as various wireless licenses. Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (the "1996 Act"), any entity, including cable television companies, electric and gas utilities, may enter any telecommunications market, subject to reasonable state regulation of safety, quality and consumer protection.
The FCC has pending a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NPRM") to initiate a comprehensive review of rules governing the pricing of special access service offered by ILECs subject to price cap regulation. Special access pricing by these carriers currently is subject to price cap rules, as well as pricing flexibility rules which permit these carriers to offer volume and term discounts and contract tariffs (Phase I pricing flexibility) and/or remove from price caps regulation special access service in a defined geographic area (Phase II pricing flexibility) based on showings of competition. In the NPRM the FCC tentatively concludes to continue to permit pricing flexibility where competitive market forces are sufficient to constrain special access prices, but undertakes an examination of whether the current triggers for pricing flexibility accurately assess competition and have worked as intended. The NPRM also asks for comment on whether certain aspects of ILEC special access tariff offerings (e.g., basing discounts on previous volumes of service; tying nonrecurring charges and termination penalties to term commitments; and imposing use restrictions in connection with discounts), are unreasonable. At this time, we cannot predict the impact, if any, that a ruling on the NPRM will have on our network cost structure.
Both AT&T and Verizon, in connection with large acquisitions, have agreed to abide by certain conditions that are enforceable by the FCC in connection with special access prices, terms and conditions. In December 2007, we filed a complaint against AT&T alleging, among other things, that
AT&T had violated those commitments. At this stage, the proceeding is continuing and we intend to vigorously pursue our claims. We cannot at this time predict the outcome of that proceeding.
As of August 1, 2001, our tariffs for interstate end user services were eliminated and our tariffs for international interexchange services were eliminated on January 28, 2002. Our rates must still be just and reasonable and nondiscriminatory. Our state tariffs remain in place. We have historically relied primarily on our sales force and marketing activities to provide information to our customers regarding these matters and expect to continue to do so. Further, in accordance with the FCC's orders we maintain a schedule of our rates, terms and conditions for our domestic and international private line services on our web site.
Intercarrier compensation. Telecommunications carriers compensate one another for traffic carried on each other's networks. Interexchange carriers pay access charges to local telephone companies for long distance calls that originate and terminate on local networks. Local telephone companies typically charge one another for local and Internet-bound traffic terminating on each other's networks. The entire methodology by which carriers compensate one another for exchanged traffic, whether it be for local, intrastate or interstate traffic, is under review at the FCC.
Apart from this comprehensive review of intercarrier compensation, individual compensation issues have been the subject of FCC and state commission rulings. Since 1997 the issue of compensation to be paid for calls dialed to Internet service providers or ISPs has been heavily litigated. Since 2004, the issue of compensation to be paid in connection with the exchange of Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP calls has also been the subject of much debate.
In its decision on Nov. 5, 2008, the FCC responded to a mandamus order from the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia concerning its 2001 ISP Remand Order. In that Mandamus Order, the FCC clarified that it had jurisdiction over ISP bound traffic pursuant to the reciprocal compensation provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 regardless of whether the traffic was local or long distance. The FCC then decided to maintain the existing compensation regime it had established for ISP-bound traffic with a rate of $0.0007 per minute of use. The Mandamus Order has been appealed to the Court of Appeals. In addition, a number of states have been asked to implement the Mandamus Order. The Company cannot predict the outcome of those proceedings.
Level 3 maintains approximately 233 interconnection agreements with other telecommunications carriers. These agreements set out the terms and conditions under which the parties will exchange traffic. The largest agreements are with AT&T and Verizon. Level 3's agreement with AT&T expires on January 11, 2011. Level 3's agreement with Verizon expires on March 31, 2009. Upon expiration of the agreement, Level 3 and Verizon will continue to provide services until a successor agreement has been reached.
As interconnection agreements expire, we will continue to negotiate new agreements but at this time cannot predict what the final terms will be, including compensation for ISP-bound traffic or VoIP traffic. In the event we initiate arbitration before a state commission to establish the terms of the interconnection agreement, we cannot predict what the final terms will be, including compensation for ISP-bound traffic or VoIP traffic
Given the general uncertainty surrounding the effect of the FCC and state decisions and appeals, we may have to change (1) how we treat the compensation we receive for terminating calls bound for ISPs if the agreements under which compensation is paid provided for the incorporation of changes in FCC rules and regulations; (2) the manner in which we account for the compensation and costs of intercarrier compensation for VOIP.
There is also uncertainty in respect to intercarrier compensation for VoIP traffic. As in the ISP intercarrier compensation situation, the FCC has issued a number of rulings asserting its jurisdiction over such traffic, but to date it has not issued any rulings on the scope and rate of intercarrier
compensation to be paid by carriers exchanging VoIP traffic. While carriers that serve VoIP providers such as Level 3 have typically asserted that VoIP traffic is local in nature and thereby subject to local compensation rates, the RBOCS and other incumbents have taken the position that some or all of this traffic should be subject to higher intrastate or interstate rates. A number of carriers have filed petitions with the FCC seeking a declaratory ruling on the treatment of VoIP traffic. These petitions have either been withdrawn or rejected based on procedural grounds. In those cases, the FCC did not resolve the question of the appropriate intercarrier compensation. The last petition, filed by Embarq, was withdrawn on February 11, 2009.
Until such time as the FCC acts in such a way as to either clarify its rulings on ISP compensation, VoIP compensation or rules on intercarrier compensation in its entirety, and such rules are final and non-appealable, the scope of intercarrier compensation obligations between carriers exchanging ISP or VoIP traffic is uncertain.
Universal Service. Level 3 is subject to federal and state regulations that implement universal service support for access to communications services in rural, high-cost and low-income markets at reasonable rates; and access to advanced communications services by schools, libraries and rural health care providers. Currently, the FCC assesses Level 3 a percentage of interstate and international revenue it receives from retail customers as its contribution to the Federal Universal Service Fund. The FCC is currently considering changing the method by which our contributions are assessed to a flat-fee charge, such as a per-line or per-number charge. Any change in the assessment methodology may affect Level 3's revenues but at this time, it is not possible to predict the extent we would be affected, if at all.
The 1996 Act is intended to increase competition in the telecommunications industry, especially in the local exchange market. With respect to local services, ILECs are required to allow interconnection to their networks and to provide unbundled access to network facilities, as well as a number of other pro-competitive measures. Because the implementation of the 1996 Act is subject to numerous state rulemaking proceedings on these issues, it is currently difficult to predict how quickly full competition for local services will be realized.
State regulatory agencies have jurisdiction when our facilities and services are used to provide intrastate telecommunications services. A portion of our traffic may be classified as intrastate telecommunications and therefore subject to state regulation. We expect that we will offer more intrastate telecommunications services (including intrastate switched services) as our business and product lines expand. To provide intrastate services, we generally must obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the state regulatory agency and comply with state requirements for telecommunications utilities, including state tariffing requirements. We currently are authorized to provide telecommunications services in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. In addition, we will be required to obtain and maintain interconnection agreements with ILECs where we wish to provide service. We expect that we should be able to negotiate or otherwise obtain renewals or successor agreements through adoption of others' contracts or arbitration proceedings, although the rates, terms, and conditions applicable to interconnection and the exchange of traffic with certain ILECs could change significantly in certain cases. The degree to which the rates, terms, and conditions may change will depend not only upon the negotiation and arbitration process and availability of other interconnection agreements, but will also depend in significant part upon state commission proceedings that either uphold or modify the current regimes governing interconnection and the exchange of certain kinds of traffic between carriers.
States also often require prior approvals or notifications for certain transfers of assets, customers or ownership of certificated carriers and for issuances by certified carriers of equity or debt.
Our networks are subject to numerous local regulations such as building codes and licensing. Such regulations vary on a city-by-city, county-by-county and state-by-state basis. To install our own fiber optic transmission facilities, we need to obtain rights-of-way over privately and publicly owned land. Rights-of-way that are not already secured, or which may expire and not be renewed, may not be available to us on economically reasonable or advantageous terms.
Regulation of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
Federal and State
Due to the growing acceptance and deployment of VoIP services, the FCC and state public utility commissions are conducting regulatory proceedings that could affect the regulatory duties and rights of entities such as us or our affiliates that provide IP-based voice applications. There is regulatory uncertainty as to the imposition of access charges and other taxes, fees and surcharges on VoIP services that use the public switched telephone network. There is regulatory uncertainty as to the imposition of traditional retail, common carrier regulation on VoIP products and services.
The rules respecting the payments made by carriers for the exchange of VoIP traffic have been subject to much debate. The FCC has not clarified whether VoIP traffic is to be subjected to the access charges regime that is applicable to traditional telecom service, or whether VoIP traffic is to be treated as an "information service" or "enhanced" and not subject to access charges. There are a number of petitions and proceedings pending before the FCC where this issue could be resolved. At this time, it is difficult to predict the outcome of any of these proceedings or the timing for their eventual resolution. As a result, we cannot predict the effect that any such rulings could have on our provision of VoIP services.
The FCC has classified VoIP services as "interstate" services subject to FCC regulations, and has stated that states have limited authority to regulate the offering of VoIP services. On September 22, 2003, Vonage Holdings Corporation ("Vonage") filed a petition with the FCC requesting a declaration that its offerings, which originate on a broadband network in IP format and terminate on the PSTN, are interstate information services not subject to state regulation under the 1996 Act and existing FCC rules. On November 10, 2004, the FCC adopted an order (which was subsequently upheld on appeal) ruling that Vonage's service was an interstate service not subject to state regulation.
On June 3, 2005, the FCC issued an order (which was subsequently upheld on appeal) requiring all interconnected VoIP providers to deliver enhanced 911 capabilities to their subscribers by no later than November 28, 2005. We have modified our service offerings to VoIP providers in order to assist them in complying with the FCC mandate.
In 2007, the FCC imposed some regulatory requirements on VoIP providers that had previously been applicable only to traditional telecommunications providers. Specifically, the FCC (a) imposed obligations on VoIP providers to contribute to the federal universal service fund, and (b) required VoIP carriers to comply with regulations relating to local number portability (including contributing to the costs of managing number portability requirements). In addition, a number of state public utility commissions are conducting regulatory proceedings that could impact our rights and obligations with respect to IP-based voice applications. Specifically, some states have taken the position that the "local" component of VoIP service is subject to traditional regulations applicable to local telecommunications services, such as the obligation to pay intrastate universal service fees.
We cannot predict the outcome of any of these petitions and regulatory proceedings or any similar petitions and regulatory proceedings pending before the FCC or state public utility commissions. Moreover, we cannot predict how their outcomes may affect our operations or whether the FCC or
state public utility commissions will impose additional requirements, regulations or charges upon our provision of services related to IP communications.
Unlike the United States which has a fractured regulatory scheme with respect to VoIP services, the European Union has adopted a more systematic approach to the convergence of networks and VoIP regulation specifically. The European Commission will oversee the implementation by its member-states of six new directives developed to regulate electronic communications in a technology and platform neutral manner. Implementation of the directives has not been uniform across the Member States of the European Union and it is difficult to predict when they will be implemented at the national level. Even with harmonization, the national regulatory agencies will continue to be responsible for issuing general authorizations and specific licenses.
The European Union's approach to the regulation of VoIP turns on whether VoIP is voice telephony. The European Commission has defined voice telephony to have four elements: (1) commercial offering as voice telephony; (2) provision to the public; (3) provision to and from the public switched telephone network termination points; and (4) direct speech transport and switching of speech in real time, particularly at the same level of reliability and speech quality as provided by the PSTN. In its "Communication from the Commission, Consultation on Voice on the Internet" in June 2000, the European Commission directed that "Member States should continue to allow Internet access providers to offer voice over Internet protocol under data transmission general authorizations, and that specific licensing conditions are not justified."
The European Commission has subsequently redefined its definitions to suggest that some VoIP offerings are voice telephony. In its December 2000 communication, the European Commission noted that increasing quality and reliability as well as marketing of voice capabilities with bundled services, made certain kinds of "voice over Internet" much more like voice services. While the current European Commission directives do not mandate the treatment of VoIP as voice telephony, the commission will continue to reevaluate the regulation of VoIP as service quality becomes the equivalent of traditional voice telephony.
In February 2003, the European Union adopted a new regulatory framework for electronic communications that is designed to address in a technologically neutral manner the convergence of communications across telecommunications, computer and broadcasting networks. The directives address: (1) framework (2) interconnection and access, (3) authorization and licensing, (4) universal service and (5) privacy. These directives and an additional decision on radio spectrum replace the existing 20 directives on electronic communications. Under the framework, voice telephony providers will face additional obligations, including specific licensing and universal service obligations. Others will likely face new regulation. One example could be VoIP. If it is classified as an electronic communications service, rather than voice telephony, it would still be subject to additional regulations to achieve regulatory parity with other electronic communications.
The United Kingdom was one of the first countries to fully implement the European Union's new framework for electronic communications, which it did by July 25, 2003. At that time, certain provisions of the United Kingdom's Telecommunications Act of 1984 were repealed. Pursuant to that framework, the licensing regime was replaced with a general authorization. Our existing licenses were canceled and replaced with a general authorization.
Under the regime, the United Kingdom regulates VoIP as an electronic communication service. The degree of regulation imposed on the service depends upon whether the service is considered to be a Publicly Available Telephone Service (PATS). A service is considered to be a PATS if the following conditions are met: it is marketed as a substitute for the traditional telephone service; the service appears to the customer to be a substitute for the traditional public telephone service over which they expect access to emergency services; or the service provides the customers sole means of access to the traditional circuit switched public telephone network.
Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act ("Act"), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ("CRTC"), has jurisdiction to regulate telecommunications communications and their service offerings in Canada (telecommunications is a Federal jurisdiction). Regulatory developments over the past several years have terminated the historic monopolies of the ILECs bringing significant competition to this industry for both domestic and international long distance services. On December 14, 2006, the Governor in Council (Federal Cabinet) for the first time exercised its statutory power to issue a binding Policy Direction requiring the CRTC, in regulating the telecommunications industry, to rely on market forces to the maximum extent possible, regulating only to the extent necessary and then in an efficient and a proportionate way. The provision of Canadian domestic and international transmission facilities based services remains restricted to "Canadian carriers". These carriers must have majority ownership and control in fact by Canadians. There are no such Canadian ownership and control requirements for companies that resell the services and facilities of a Canadian carrier. Level 3 operates as a reseller in Canada. If the ownership restrictions are repealed, we anticipate that we will be able to expand our operations and service offerings in Canada. The liberalization of Canadian carrier ownership and control is controversial and there are no immediate prospects for such a change.
While competition is permitted in virtually all other Canadian telecommunications market segments, we believe that the ILECs continue to retain a substantial majority of the local and calling card markets. Beginning in May 1997 and furthered by a Federal Government policy direction, the CRTC has released a number of decisions opening to competition the Canadian local telecommunications services market. As a result, networks operated by CLECs may now be interconnected with the networks of the ILECs. Transmission facilities-based CLECs are subject to the same majority Canadian ownership "Canadian carrier" requirements as transmission facilities-based long distance carriers. CLECs have the same status as ILECs, but without universal service or customer tariff filing obligations. All bundled and unbundled local services (including residential lines and other bulk services) may now be resold, but ILECs need not provide these services to resellers at wholesale prices. The CRTC has ruled that resellers cannot be classified as CLECs, and thus are not entitled to CLEC interconnection terms and conditions.
With respect to VoIP services, the CRTC ruled in Decision 2005-28 that it should forbear from regulating circuit-switched VoIP services. As a result, ILECs are not required to file tariffs for the provision of long distance VoIP services. With respect to local VoIP services, the Governor in Council varied the CRTC decision to treat VoIP services as other local exchange services by making an exception for access-independent VoIP services that do not include an ILEC-provided loop. Furthermore, the ILEC, Bell Canada, has received approval of its application to be relieved of the requirement to obtain pre-approval for price changes for its local VoIP services. Bell has been permitted to notify the CRTC two business days in advance of changes as long as the price is within an authorized range.
In a March 3, 2008 decision, the CRTC established the regulatory framework for wholesale telecommunications services with rules for the regulation and pricing provided by ILECs to competitive service providers such as alternative local and long distance carriers, resellers and ISPs. The CRTC
decision revised its definition of an "essential service", established a six-category framework for the CRTC's regulation of wholesale telecommunications services, categorized various available wholesale services within these identified categories, and established the regulatory conditions associated with each service category, notably mandated access and pricing principles, as well as the process for the phase-out of regulation for certain services found to be non-essential. In its 1997 local competition decision, the CRTC had tied essential facilities to those provided on a monopoly basis. In the 2008 decision, non-monopoly facilities will have to be provided to competitors if the CRTC makes a determination that withdrawal of mandatory access would likely result in a substantial lessening or prevention of competition. The CRTC classified wholesale services that are currently regulated into six categories: essential, conditional essential, conditional mandated non-essential, public good, interconnection, and non-essential subject to phase-out of regulation. Very few services were classified as essential. In the category of "conditional essential" wholesale services, the CRTC included wholesale services used for local telephony (primarily unbundled local loops), low-speed competitor digital network access services, DS-0 and DS-1 access facilities and ADSL access services used to provide high-speed Internet access services to residences and businesses. This essential conditional category classification will continue until it is demonstrated that wholesale alternatives functionally equivalent are sufficiently present such that withdrawing mandated access would not likely result in a substantial lessening or prevention of competition in the local exchange services market. Regarding network interconnection services, customer access facilities, and support structure services, the CRTC considers that these arrangements are technologically and competitively neutral to the greatest extent possible, enable competition from new technologies, and do not artificially favour Canadian carriers or resellers.
The CRTC has conditionally forborne from regulating the retail Internet services, but not the wholesale Internet services, of Canadian carriers preserving its regulatory powers relating to unjust discrimination and undue preference or advantage. The CRTC has ruled (Telecom Decision 2008-108) that Bell Canada's application of its traffic-shaping measures to its wholesale ADSL access service known as Gateway Access Service (GAS) were not in violation of the Act. In Public Notice 2008-19, the CRTC noted that Decision 2008-108 dealt only with Bell Canada's practice of throttling P2P traffic at certain times of the day in relation to its GAS being provided to wholesale customers. In the Public Notice, the CRTC announced it would explore the current and potential Internet traffic management practices of all ISPs operating in Canada, examining both retail and wholesale services. Following the filing of written submissions, the CRTC will hold an oral public hearing commencing July 6, 2009 to consider the issues relating to Internet traffic management practices.
Our Other Business
Our company was incorporated as Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc. in Delaware in 1941 to continue a construction business founded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1884. In subsequent years, we invested a portion of the cash flow generated by our construction activities in a variety of other businesses. We entered the coal mining business in 1943, the telecommunications business in 1988, the information services business in 1990 and the alternative energy business in 1991. We have also made investments in several development-stage ventures.
In December 1997, our stockholders ratified the decision of the Board to effect the split-off separating our historical construction business from the remainder of our operations. As a result of the split-off, which was completed on March 31, 1998, we no longer own any interest in the prior construction business. In conjunction with the split-off, we changed our name to "Level 3 Communications, Inc.," and the entity that held the prior construction business changed its name to "Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc."
On November 30, 2005, we completed the sale of our (i)Structure, LLC subsidiary to Infocrossing, Inc. Prior to the sale, (i)Structure provided computer operations outsourcing to customers located primarily in the United States. On September 7, 2006, we completed the sale of 100% of the
capital stock of our indirect, wholly owned subsidiary, Software Spectrum, Inc., to Insight Enterprises, Inc. Prior to the sale, Software Spectrum was a leading direct marketer of software and provider of software licensing services to corporations. With the completion of the sale of Software Spectrum, we exited the information services business.
We are engaged in coal mining through our subsidiary, KCP, Inc. or KCP. KCP has a 50% interest in two mines, which are operated by a subsidiary of Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc. or PKS. Decker Coal Company or Decker is a joint venture with Western Minerals, Inc., which is a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Energy America Inc. Black Butte Coal Company or Black Butte is a joint venture with Bitter Creek Coal Company, a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. The Decker mine is located in southeastern Montana and the Black Butte mine is in southwestern Wyoming. The coal mines use the surface mining method.
The coal produced from the KCP mines is sold primarily to electric utilities, which burn coal to produce steam to generate electricity. Essentially all of the sales were made under long-term contracts. Approximately 63%, 67% and 68% of KCP's revenue in 2008, 2007 and 2006, respectively, were derived from long-term contracts with Pacificorp (Black Butte), Idaho Power (Black Butte), The Detroit Edison Company (with Decker), and Commonwealth Edison Company (with Decker). The mines have commitments to deliver approximately 20.7 million tons of coal through 2014 under contracts with Pacificorp, Idaho Power and Virginia Power. The mines also have other sales commitments, including those with The Detroit Edison Company, Sierra Pacific and Minnesota Power that provide for the delivery of approximately 7.7 million tons through 2012. Under a mine management agreement, KCP pays a subsidiary of PKS an annual fee equal to 30% of KCP's adjusted operating income. The fee for 2008 was approximately $1 million.
The coal industry is highly competitive. KCP competes not only with other domestic and foreign coal suppliers, some of whom are larger and have greater capital resources than KCP, but also with alternative methods of generating electricity and alternative energy sources. In 2007, the most recent year for which information is available, KCP's production represented less than 1% of total U.S. coal production. Demand for KCP's coal is affected by economic, political and regulatory factors. For example, recent "clean air" laws may stimulate demand for low sulfur coal. KCP's western coal reserves generally have a low sulfur content (less than one percent) and are currently useful principally as fuel for coal-fired, steam-electric generating units.
KCP's sales of its coal, like sales by other western coal producers, typically provide for delivery to customers at the mine. A significant portion of the customer's delivered cost of coal is attributable to transportation costs. Most of the coal sold from KCP's western mines is currently shipped by rail to utilities outside Montana and Wyoming. The Decker and Black Butte mines are each served by a single railroad. Many of their western coal competitors are served by two railroads and such competitors' customers often benefit from lower transportation costs because of competition between railroads for coal hauling business. Other western coal producers, particularly those in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, have lower stripping ratios (that is, the amount of overburden that must be removed in proportion to the amount of minable coal) than the Black Butte and Decker mines, often resulting in lower comparative costs of production. As a result, KCP's production costs per ton of coal at the Black Butte and Decker mines can be as much as four and five times greater than production costs of certain competitors. Because of these cost disadvantages, there is no assurance that KCP will be able to enter into additional long-term coal purchase contracts for Black Butte and Decker production. In addition, these cost disadvantages may adversely affect KCP's ability to compete for sales in the future.
We are required to comply with various federal, state and local laws and regulations concerning protection of the environment. KCP's share of land reclamation expenses for the year ended December 31, 2008 was approximately $3 million. KCP's share of accrued estimated reclamation costs was $96 million at December 31, 2008. We were not required to make significant capital expenditures for environmental compliance with respect to the coal business in 2008. We believe our compliance with environmental protection and land restoration laws will not affect our competitive position since our competitors in the mining industry are similarly affected by such laws. However, failure to comply with environmental protection and land restoration laws, or actual reclamation costs in excess of our accruals, could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Glossary of Terms
Directors and Executive Officers
Set forth below is information as of February 27, 2009, about our directors and our executive officers. Our executive officers have been determined in accordance with the rules of the SEC.
Set forth below is information as of February 27, 2009, about the following members of senior management of Level 3 Communications, LLC.
Walter Scott, Jr. has been the Chairman of the Board of the Company since September 1979, and a director of the Company since April 1964. Mr. Scott has been Chairman Emeritus of Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc. ("PKS") since the split-off in 1998. Mr. Scott is also a director of PKS, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, and Valmont Industries, Inc.
James Q. Crowe has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Company since August 1997, and a director of the Company since June 1993. Mr. Crowe was also President of the Company until July 2000. Mr. Crowe was President and Chief Executive Officer of MFS Communications Company, Inc. ("MFS") from June 1993 to June 1997. Mr. Crowe also served as Chairman of the Board of WorldCom from January 1997 until July 1997, and as Chairman of the Board of MFS from 1992 through 1996.
Jeffrey K. Storey has been the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Company since December 2008. From December 2005 until May 2008, Mr. Storey, was PresidentLeucadia Telecommunications Group of Leucadia National Corporation, where he directed and managed Leucadia's investments in telecommunications companies. Prior to that, beginning in October 2002 Mr. Storey was President and Chief Executive Officer of WilTel Communications Group, LLC until its sale to the Company in December 2005. Prior to this position, Mr. Storey was Senior Vice PresidentChief Operations Officer, Network for Williams Communications, Inc., where he had responsibility for all areas of operations for the company's communications network, including planning, engineering, field operations, service delivery and network management.
Charles C. Miller, III has been Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President of the Company since February 15, 2001. Mr. Miller has also been a director of the Company since February 19, 2009. Mr. Miller was previously a director from February 2001 until May 2004. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Miller was President of Bellsouth International, a subsidiary of Bellsouth Corporation from 1995 until December 2000. Prior to that, Mr. Miller held various senior level officer and management position at BellSouth from 1987 until 1995.
Sunit S. Patel has been Chief Financial Officer and an Executive Vice President of the Company since March 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Patel was Chief Financial Officer from May 2003 and a Group Vice President of the Company from March 13, 2003 to March 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Patel was Chief Financial Officer of Looking Glass Networks, Inc., a provider of metropolitan fiber optic networks, from April 2000 until March 2003. Mr. Patel was Treasurer of WorldCom Inc. and MCIWorldcom Inc., each long distance telephone services providers from 1997 to March 2000. From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Patel was Treasurer of MFS Communications Company Inc., a competitive local exchange carrier.
Thomas C. Stortz has been Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary since February 2004. Prior to that, Mr. Stortz was Group Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the Company from February 2000 to February 2004. Prior to that, Mr. Stortz served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the Company from September 1998 to February 1, 2000. Prior to that, he served as Vice President and General Counsel of Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc. and Kiewit Construction Group, Inc. from April 1991 to September 1998. He has served as a director of Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc.
Eric J. Mortensen has been Senior Vice President and Controller of the Company since 2003. Prior to that, Mr. Mortensen was Vice President and Controller of the Company from 1999 to 2003 and was the Controller of the Company from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, Mr. Mortensen was Controller and Assistant Controller of Kiewit Diversified Group for more than five years.
R. Douglas Bradbury has been a director of the Company since February 19, 2009. Mr. Bradbury is a private investor. Mr. Bradbury served as Vice Chairman of the Company from 2000 to 2003 and as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Company from 1997 to 2000. Mr. Bradbury was previously a member of the Company's Board from 1997 to 2003. Prior to joining Level 3, Mr. Bradbury was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of MFS Communications Company, Inc. until its purchase by WorldCom, Inc. in 1996. He currently serves on the board of directors of LodgeNet Interactive Corporation, a leading provider of media and connectivity solutions designed to meet the needs of hospitality, healthcare and other guest-based businesses.
Douglas C. Eby has been a director of the Company since August 2007. Mr. Eby is chairman and CEO of TimePartners LLC, an investment advisory firm since 2004. Prior to that from April 1997 until September 2007, Mr. Eby was President of Torray LLC, a registered investment advisory firm, having joined Torray LLC in 1992. Mr. Eby is also a member of the Board of Directors of Markel Corporation, a specialty insurance company, Realty Finance Corporation, a commercial real estate specialty finance company, and Suburban Healthcare System. Since July 2007, Mr. Eby is also a
member of the Board and past Chairman of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, D.C. Mr. Eby is a member of the Audit Committee.
Admiral James O. Ellis, Jr. U.S. Navy (ret.) has been a director of the Company since March 2005. Effective May 18, 2005, Admiral Ellis became the president and chief executive officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations or INPO, a nonprofit corporation established by the nuclear utility industry in 1979 to promote the highest levels of safety and reliability in the operation of nuclear electric generating plants. Admiral Ellis most recently served as Commander, U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska, before retiring in July 2004 after 35 years of service in the U.S. Navy, as Commander of the Strategic Command. In his Naval career, he held numerous commands. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he also holds M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and in Aeronautical Systems from the University of West Florida. He served as a Naval aviator and was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Admiral Ellis is also a member of the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin Corporation, a global security company and Inmarsat PLC, an owner and operator of geostationary satellites from which a wide range of voice and high-speed data services are provided. Admiral Ellis is the Chairman of the Nominating and Governance committee.
Richard R. Jaros has been a director of the Company since June 1993 and served as President of the Company from 1996 to 1997. Mr. Jaros has been a private investor for more than the past five years. Mr. Jaros served as Executive Vice President of the Company from 1993 to 1996 and Chief Financial Officer of the Company from 1995 to 1996. He also served as President and Chief Operating Officer of CalEnergy from 1992 to 1993. Mr. Jaros is the Chairman of the Compensation Committee.
Robert E. Julian has been a director of the Company since March 1998. Mr. Julian has been a private investor for more than the past five years. From 1992 to 1995 Mr. Julian served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Company. Mr. Julian is a member of the Audit Committee.
Michael J. Mahoney has been a director of the Company since August 2007. Mr. Mahoney is a private investor since March 2007. From 2000 until March 2007, Mr. Mahoney was the president and chief executive officer of Commonwealth Telephone Enterprises. Prior to that, from 1997 until 2000, Mr. Mahoney was president and chief operating officer of RCN Corporation. Mr. Mahoney also served as president and chief operating officer of C-TEC Corporation from 1993 until 1997. Mr. Mahoney is a member of the Board of Trustees of Wilkes University. Mr. Mahoney is a member of the Compensation Committee.
Arun Netravali has been a director of the Company since April 2003. Mr. Netravali is currently the managing partner of OmniCapital Group LLC, a venture capital firm since November 2004. Mr. Netravali was a private investor from April 2003 until November 2004. Prior to that, Mr. Netravali was Chief Scientist for Lucent Technologies, working with academic and investment communities to identify and implement important new networking technologies from January 2002 to April 2003. Prior to that position, Mr. Netravali was President of Bell Labs as well as Lucent's Chief Technology Officer and Chief Network Architect from June 1999 to January 2002. Bell Labs serves as the research and development organization for Lucent Technologies. Mr. Netravali is a director of LSI Corporation, a leading provider of innovative silicon, systems and software technologies. Mr. Netravali is a member of the Compensation Committee.
John T. Reed has been a director of the Company since March 2003. Mr. Reed has been a private investor since February 2005. Mr. Reed is also a Director of and Chairman of the Audit Committee of First National Nebraska, Inc. and a Director of, and a member of the Audit, Nominating, Investment and Compensation committees of Investors Real Estate Trust, a real estate investment trust. Mr. Reed is also Chairman-Elect of Boys Town, located in Boys Town, Nebraska. Mr. Reed was Chairman of HMG Properties, the real estate investment banking joint venture of McCarthy Group, Inc. from 2000
until February 2005. Prior to that, he was Chairman of McCarthy & Co., the investment banking affiliate of McCarthy Group. Prior to joining McCarthy Group in 1997, Mr. Reed spent 32 years with Arthur Andersen LLP. Mr. Reed is the Chairman of the Audit Committee and a member of the Nominating and Governance Committee.
Michael B. Yanney has been a director of the Company since March 1998. He has served as Chairman of the Board of The Burlington Capital Group, LLC (formerly known as America First Companies L.L.C.) for more than the last five years. Mr. Yanney also served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Burlington Capital Group, LLC. Mr. Yanney is a member of the Nominating and Governance Committee.
Dr. Albert C. Yates has been a director of the Company since March 2005. Dr. Yates retired after 13 years as president of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado in June 2003. He was also chancellor of the Colorado State University System until October 2003, and is a former member of the board of the Federal Reserve Board of Kansas City-Denver Branch and the board of directors of First Interstate Bank and Molson Coors Brewing Company. He currently serves as a director of Guaranty Bancorp, a bank holding company that operates 34 branches in Colorado through a single bank, Guaranty Bank and Trust Company, and StarTek, Inc., a leading provider of high value business process outsourcing services to the communications industry. Dr. Yates is a member of the Compensation Committee.
Sureel A. Choksi has been Chief Marketing Officer since January 2008, responsible for product management and marketing. Prior to that, Mr. Choksi was President Wholesale Markets Group from August 2006 to January 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Choksi was Executive Vice President of Switched Services from January 2006 to August 2006. Prior to this role, Mr. Choksi was Executive Vice President of Services from November 2004 to January 2006, responsible for developing and managing Level 3's communications services. Prior to that, Mr. Choksi was Executive Vice President Softswitch Services from January 2004 and Group Vice President Transport and Infrastructure from May 2003 until January 2004. Mr. Choksi was a Group Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Company from July 2000 to May 2003. Prior to that, Mr. Choksi was Group Vice President Corporate Development and Treasurer of the Company from February 2000 until August 2000. Prior to that, Mr. Choksi served as Vice President and Treasurer of the Company from January 1999 to February 2000. Prior to that, Mr. Choksi was a Director of Finance at the Company from 1997 to 1998, an Associate at TeleSoft Management, LLC in 1997 and an Analyst at Gleacher & Company from 1995 to 1997.
Andrew Crouch has been the President of the Wholesale Markets Group since January 2008, after serving as Group Vice President of Sales for the Wholesale Markets Group beginning in April 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Crouch served as the Senior Vice President of the Carrier Channel from January 2005 to April 2006, and Senior Vice President of the Enterprise Voice Services from January 2004 to January 2005. Mr. Crouch began his career at Level 3 in November 2001 as the Senior Vice President of Sales for the Cable and ISP Channel and held this position until December 2003. Before joining Level 3, Mr. Crouch served as the Deputy General Manager within the Corporate Clients Division at British Telecom. He also served as the Vice President of Commercial Operations for Concert Communications, a joint venture between British Telecom and AT&T from January 2000 to October 2001.
Jeffrey Tench has been the President of the Business Markets Group since November 2008, after serving as Group Vice President for Product Management beginning earlier in 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Tench served as the Senior Vice President of Product Management for Enterprise Products from March 2007 to January 2008. Mr. Tench began his career at Level 3 in 1999, and has held a range of product management positions across the entire Level 3 portfolio, including two years as Senior Vice President of Product for Level 3's European Markets Group. Before joining the Company, Mr. Tench served in a range of sales and product management positions at U S WEST Communications.
James Heard has been the President of the European Markets Group since April 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Heard was Managing Director for the European Markets Group from March 2007 to April 2008. From 1996 until 2007, Mr. Heard worked for British Telecommunications, in a number of senior management roles, including serving as the General Manager, Financial Services Group within BT Global services. He also served as the Vice President of Commercial Operations, Global accounts for Concert Communications, a joint venture between British Telecom and AT&T from January 2000 to June 2002. Prior to British Telecommunications, Mr. Heard served as Regional Sales Manager for Olivetti UK from March 1990 until June 1996.
Grant van Rooyen has been President of the Content Markets Group since April 2008. From March 2008 until April 2008, Mr. van Rooyen was the Group Vice President of the Content Markets Group with responsibility for sales, offer management, operations, research and development and a number of services including the Vyvx and CDN businesses. Mr. van Rooyen was the Senior Vice President of Marketing for the Company from February 2006 until January 2008, responsible for all Marketing activity in the Company. He has also served as the Senior Vice President of Product Management and Delivery for various services, including colocation, Internet services, Vyvx and CDN. Mr. van Rooyen was based in Europe and worked in our European business from 2004 through 2006 where he was the Vice President for Product Management, Delivery and Marketing. Mr. van Rooyen joined Level 3 in 1999 in London and held positions in International Business Development and Global Submarine Services. He joined Level 3 from the Global Satellite Services Division at British Telecom where he managed finance and commercial operations.
John F. Waters, Jr. has been President Operations, Chief Technology Officer since January 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Waters was Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer from January 2004 to January 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Waters was Group Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the Company from February 2000 to January 2004. Prior to that, Mr. Waters was Vice President, Engineering of the Company from November 1997 until February 2000. Prior to that, Mr. Waters was an executive staff member of MCI Communications from 1994 to November 1997.
Kevin T. Hart has been Chief Information officer since January 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Hart was Group Vice President Global Systems Development and Chief Information Officer from January 2005 to 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Hart was Vice President of Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment at Capgemini (formerly Ernst & Young), a management consulting firm in Dallas, Texas, for over nine years. In that role, he was responsible for the overall growth and direction of the organization's Communications Operations Support Systems, Billing/Business Support Systems and the Network Management Systems service offerings and delivery. Prior to joining Capgemini's management consulting practice, he held the positions of Director of Strategic Planning at International Paper and Manager of Operations at SBC Communications.
At our 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, the term of office of all of our directors will expire. At each annual meeting of stockholders, successors to the directors whose term expires at that annual meeting will be elected for a one-year term. Our officers are elected annually to serve until each successor is elected and qualified or until his or her death, resignation or removal.
We believe that the members of the Audit Committee are independent within the meaning of the listing standards of The NASDAQ Stock Market, LLC. The Board has determined that Mr. John T. Reed, Chairman of the Audit Committee, qualifies as a "financial expert" as defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Board considered Mr. Reed's credentials and financial background and found that he was qualified to serve as the "financial expert."
Our website is www.level3.com. We caution you that any information that is included in our website is not part of this Form 10-K.
Code of Ethics
We have adopted a code of ethics that complies with the standards mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The complete code of ethics is available on our website at www.level3.com. At any time that the code of ethics is not available on our website, we will provide a copy upon written request made to Investor Relations, Level 3 Communications, Inc., 1025 Eldorado Blvd., Broomfield, Colorado 80021. We caution you that any information that is included in our website is not part of this Form 10-K. If we amend the code of ethics, or grant any waiver from a provision of the code of ethics that applies to our executive officers or directors, we will publicly disclose such amendment or waiver as required by applicable law, including by posting such amendment or waiver on our website at www.level3.com or by filing a Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC.
Our Form 10-K, along with all other reports and amendments filed with or furnished to the SEC are publicly available free of charge on the investor relations section of our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we file such materials with, or furnish them to, the SEC. We caution you that the information on our website is not part of this or any other report we file with, or furnish to, the SEC.
Section 16(a)Beneficial Ownership Reporting Compliance
Except as described below, to our knowledge, no person that was a director, executive officer or beneficial owner of more than 10% of the outstanding shares of our common stock failed to timely file all reports required under Section 16(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. With respect to ten open market purchases of our 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2010, our director, Robert E. Julian, did not timely file a Form 4.
As of December 31, 2008, we had approximately 5,300 total employees. We believe that our success depends in large part on our ability to attract and retain substantial numbers of qualified employees.
Forward Looking Statements
We, or our representatives, from time to time may make or may have made certain forward-looking statements, either orally or in writing, including without limitation statements made or to be made in this Form 10-K, our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, information contained in other filings with the SEC, press releases and other public documents or statements. In addition, our representatives, from time to time, participate in speeches and calls with market analysts, conferences with investors or potential investors in our securities and other meetings and conferences. Some of the information presented at these speeches, calls, meetings and conferences may include forward-looking statements. We use words like "plans," "estimates," "expects," "anticipates" or "believes" to identify forward-looking statements.
We wish to ensure that all forward-looking statements are accompanied by meaningful cautionary statements, so as to ensure to the fullest extent possible the protections of the safe harbor established in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Accordingly, all forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to, and are accompanied by, the following discussion of certain important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in these forward-looking statements. We caution the reader that this list of important factors may not be exhaustive. We operate in a rapidly changing business, and new risk factors emerge from time to time.
We cannot predict every risk factor, nor can we assess the effect, if any, of all such risk factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in any forward-looking statements. Accordingly, forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as a prediction of actual results. Further, we undertake no obligation to update forward-looking statements after the date they are made to conform the statements to actual results or changes in our expectations.
Risks Related to our Business
Current uncertainty in the global financial markets and the global economy may negatively affect our financial results.
Current uncertainty in the global financial markets and economy may negatively affect our financial results. A prolonged period of economic decline could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition and exacerbate some of the other risk factors we have described below. Our customers may defer purchases of our services in response to tighter credit and negative financial news or reduce their demand for our services. Our customers may also not be able to obtain adequate access to credit, which could affect their ability to make timely payments to us or ultimately cause the customer to file for protection from creditors under applicable insolvency or bankruptcy laws. If our customers are not able to make timely payments to us, our accounts receivable could increase.
In addition, our operating results and financial condition could be negatively affected if as a result of economic conditions:
For more information, please see the risk factor below under the caption, "Termination of relationships with key suppliers could cause delay and additional costs."
Recent disruptions in the financial markets could affect our ability to obtain debt or equity financing or to refinance our existing indebtedness on reasonable terms (or at all), and have other adverse effects on us.
Widely documented commercial credit market disruptions have resulted in a tightening of credit markets worldwide. Liquidity in the global credit markets have been severely contracted by these market disruptions, making it costly to obtain new lines of credit or to refinance existing debt, when debt financing is available at all. The effects of these disruptions are widespread and difficult to quantify, and it is impossible to predict when the global credit markets will improve or when the credit contraction will stop. As a result of the ongoing credit market turmoil, we may not be able to obtain debt or equity financing or to refinance our existing indebtedness on favorable terms (or at all), which could affect our strategic operations and our financial performance and force modifications to our operations.
If we were unable to refinance our debt or to raise additional capital on acceptable terms, our ability to operate our business would be impaired. As of December 31, 2008, we had an aggregate of approximately $6.580 billion of long-term debt on a consolidated basis, including current maturities,
premiums and discounts, capital leases and our commercial mortgage, and approximately $876 million of stockholders' equity. Of this long-term debt, approximately $186 million is due to mature in 2009, approximately $583 million is due to mature in 2010 and approximately $569 million is due to mature in 2011, in each case excluding issue discounts, premiums and fair value adjustments. For more information, please see the risk factor below under the caption "We may not be able to repay our existing debt; failure to do so or refinance the debt could prevent us from implementing our strategy and realizing anticipated profits."
Our financial condition and growth depends upon the successful integration of our acquired businesses. We may not be able to efficiently and effectively integrate acquired operations, and thus may not fully realize the anticipated benefits from such acquisitions.
Achieving the anticipated benefits of the acquisitions that we have completed starting in December 2005 will depend in part upon whether we can integrate our businesses in an efficient and effective manner.
Since December 2005, we have acquired, in chronological order, WilTel Communications Group, LLC, Progress Telecom, LLC, ICG Communications, Inc., TelCove, Inc., Looking Glass Networks Holding Co., Inc., Broadwing Corporation, the CDN services business of SAVVIS, and Servecast Limited. In the future we may acquire additional businesses in accordance with our business strategy. The integration of our acquired businesses and any future businesses that we may acquire involves a number of risks, including, but not limited to:
Successful integration of these acquired businesses or operations will depend on our ability to manage these operations, realize opportunities for revenue growth presented by strengthened service offerings and expanded geographic market coverage, obtain better terms from our vendors due to increased buying power, and eliminate redundant and excess costs to fully realize the expected synergies. Because of difficulties in combining geographically distant operations and systems which may not be fully compatible, we may not be able to achieve the financial strength and growth we anticipate from the acquisitions.
We cannot be certain that we will realize our anticipated benefits from our acquisitions, or that we will be able to efficiently and effectively integrate the acquired operations as planned. If we fail to integrate the acquired businesses and operations efficiently and effectively or fail to realize the benefits we anticipate, we would be likely to experience material adverse effects on our business, financial condition, results of operations and future prospects.
We need to continue to increase the volume of traffic on our network to become and/or remain profitable.
We must continue to increase the volume of data, voice and content transmissions on our communications network at acceptable prices in order to realize our targets for anticipated revenue growth, cash flow, operating efficiencies and the cost benefits of our network. If we do not maintain or improve our current relationships with existing customers and develop new large volume and enterprise customers, we may not be able to substantially increase traffic on our network, which would adversely affect our ability to become and/or remain profitable.
Intellectual property and proprietary rights of others could prevent us from using necessary technology to provide our services or subject us to expensive intellectual property litigation.
If technology that is necessary for us to provide our services was determined by a court to infringe a patent held by another entity that is unwilling to grant us a license on terms acceptable to us, we could be precluded by a court order from using that technology and we would likely be required to pay a significant monetary damages award to the patent-holder. The successful enforcement of these patents, or our inability to negotiate a license for these patents on acceptable terms, could force us to cease using the relevant technology and offering services incorporating the technology. In the event that a claim of infringement was brought against us based on the use of our technology or against our customers based on their use of our services for which we are obligated to indemnify, we could be subject to litigation to determine whether such use or sale is, in fact, infringing. This litigation could be expensive and distracting, regardless of the outcome of the suit.
While our own patent portfolio may deter other operating companies from bringing such actions, patent infringement claims are increasingly being asserted by patent holding companies, which do not use technology and whose sole business is to enforce patents against operators, such as us, for monetary gain. Because such patent holding companies, commonly referred to as patent "trolls," do not provide services or use technology, the assertion of our own patents by way of counter-claim would be largely ineffective. We have already been the subject of time-consuming and expensive patent litigation brought by certain patent holding companies and we can reasonably expect that we will face further claims in the future, particularly if legislation now discussed in Congress is not enacted in a way that will decrease the number and frequency of claims by patent trolls.
Our business requires the continued development of effective business support systems to implement customer orders and to provide and bill for services.
Our business depends on our ability to continue to develop effective business support systems. In certain cases, the development of these business support systems is required to realize our anticipated benefits from our acquisitions. This is a complicated undertaking requiring significant resources and expertise and support from third-party vendors. Following the development of the business support systems, the data migration regarding network and circuit inventory must be completed for the full benefit of the systems to be realized. Business support systems are needed for:
Because our business provides for continued rapid growth in the number of customers that we serve and the volume of services offered as well as requires the integration of acquired companies' business support systems, there is a need to continue to develop our business support systems on a schedule sufficient to meet proposed milestone dates. The failure to continue to develop effective unified business support systems could materially adversely affect our ability to implement our business plans, realize anticipated benefits from our acquisitions and meet our financial goals and objectives.
Our revenue is concentrated in a limited number of customers.
A significant portion of our communications revenue is concentrated among a limited number of customers. For the year ended December 31, 2008, our top ten customers represented approximately 31% of our consolidated total revenue. Revenue from our largest customer, AT&T Inc. and its subsidiaries, represented approximately 12% of our consolidated total revenue for 2008. The next largest customer accounted for approximately 5% of our consolidated total revenue and most of the remaining top ten customers each account for 3% or less of our consolidated total revenue. If we lost one or more of our top five customers, or, subject to the following, if one or more of these major customers significantly decreased orders for our services, our business would be materially and adversely affected.
In connection with the acquisition of WilTel in December 2005, we acquired a large customer contract between WilTel and SBC Communications, a subsidiary of AT&T, which we refer to as the SBC Master Services Agreement. We recognized $201 million and $303 million of revenue under the SBC Master Services Agreement during 2008 and 2007, respectively. The agreement provided a gross margin purchase commitment of $335 million, which was fully satisfied in 2008. However, AT&T, Inc., continues to purchase services from us under the SBC Master Services Agreement as it continues to migrate the services provided under the agreement to its own network facilities. As a result of the satisfaction of the gross margin purchase commitment, we expect that the revenue generated under the SBC Master Services Agreement will continue to decline. For more information regarding the SBC Master Services Agreement, please see the discussion in "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations."
We may lose customers if we experience system failures that significantly disrupt the availability and quality of the services that we provide. System failures may also cause interruptions to service delivery and the completion of other corporate functions.
Our operations depend on our ability to avoid and mitigate any interruptions or degradation in service for customers. Interruptions in service or performance problems, for whatever reason, could undermine confidence in our services and cause us to lose customers or make it more difficult to attract new ones. In addition, because many of our services are critical to the businesses of many of our customers, any significant interruption or degradation in service could result in lost profits or other losses to customers. Although we generally limit our liability for service failures in our service agreements to limited service credits, generally in the form of free service for a short period of time and we generally exclude any liability for "consequential" damages such as lost profits, a court might not enforce these limitations on liability, which could expose us to financial loss. In addition, we often provide our customers with committed service levels. If we are unable to meet these service level commitments, we may be obligated to provide service credits or other compensation to our customers, which could negatively affect our operating results.
The failure of any equipment or facility on our network, including our network operations control centers and network data storage locations, could result in the interruption of customer service and other corporate functions until necessary repairs are effected or replacement equipment is installed. In addition, our business continuity plans may not be adequate to address a particular failure that we experience. Delays, errors, network equipment or network facility failures, including with respect to our
network operations control centers and network data storage locations, could also result from natural disasters, disease, accidents, terrorist acts, power losses, security breaches, vandalism or other illegal acts, computer viruses, or other causes. Our business could be significantly hurt from these delays, errors, failures or faults including as a result of:
For more information, please see the risk factor below under the caption, "Termination of relationships with key suppliers could cause delay and additional costs."
There is no guarantee that we will be successful in increasing sales of our content distribution service offering.
As we believe that one of the largest sources of future incremental demand for our communications services will be derived from customers that are seeking to distribute their video, feature rich content or applications over the Internet, we purchased the content distribution network or CDN assets of SAVVIS, Inc. in January 2007 and we purchased Servecast Limited in July 2007. Although we have sold high speed Internet access, transport and colocation services since the late 1990's, we have only been selling our CDN services since January 2007. As a result, there are many difficulties that we may encounter, including customer acceptance, customer support system development issues, intellectual property matters, technological issues, developmental constraints and other problems that we may not anticipate. There is no guarantee that we will be successful in generating significant revenues from our CDN service offering.
Failure to develop and introduce new services could affect our ability to compete in the industry.
We continuously develop, test and introduce new communications services that are delivered over our communications network. These new services are intended to allow us to address new segments of the communications marketplace and to compete for additional customers. In certain instances, the introduction of new services requires the successful development of new technology. To the extent that upgrades of existing technology are required for the introduction of new services, the success of these upgrades may be dependent on reaching mutually-acceptable terms with vendors and on vendors meeting their obligations in a timely manner. In addition, new service offerings may not be widely accepted by our customers. If our new service offerings are not widely accepted by our customers, we may terminate those service offerings and we may be required to impair any assets or technology used to develop or offer those services. If we are not able to successfully complete the development and introduction of new services in a timely manner, our business could be materially adversely affected.
Rapid technological changes can lead to further competition.
The communications industry is subject to rapid and significant changes in technology. In addition, the introduction of new services or technologies, as well as the further development of existing services and technologies may reduce the cost or increase the supply of certain services similar to those that we provide. As a result, our most significant competitors in the future may be new entrants to the communications industry. These new entrants may not be burdened by an installed base of outdated
equipment or obsolete technology. Our future success depends, in part, on our ability to anticipate and adapt in a timely manner to technological changes. Failure to do so could have a material adverse effect on our business.
During our communications business operating history we have generated substantial net operating losses, and we expect to continue to generate net operating losses.
Our expenditures combined with non-cash compensation expense as well as depreciation and amortization expense could result in substantial net losses for the near future. For the fiscal years ended December 31, 2008 and December 31, 2007, we incurred net losses of approximately $290 million and $1.114 billion, respectively. We expect to continue to experience net losses, and we may not be able to achieve or sustain profitability in the future. Continued net losses could limit our ability to obtain the cash needed to expand our network, make interest and principal payments on our debt, or fund other business needs.
We will need to continue to expand and adapt our network in order to remain competitive, which may require significant additional funding. Additional expansion and adaptations of our communications network's electronic and software components will be necessary in order to respond to:
Future expansion or adaptation of our network will require substantial additional financial, operational and managerial resources, which may not be available at the time. If we are unable to expand or adapt our network to respond to these developments on a timely basis and at a commercially reasonable cost, our business will be materially adversely affected.
The market prices for certain of our communications services have decreased in the past and may decrease in the future, resulting in lower revenue than we anticipate.
Over the past few years, the market prices for certain of our communications services have decreased. These decreases resulted from downward market pressure and other factors including:
In order to retain customers and revenue, we often must reduce prices in response to market conditions and trends. As our prices for some of our communications services decrease, our operating results may suffer unless we are unable to either reduce our operating expenses or increase traffic volume from which we can derive additional revenue.
We also expect revenue from our managed modem services to continue to decline primarily as a result of end users migrating to broadband services.
We may be liable for the information that content owners or distributors distribute over our network.
The law relating to the liability of private network operators for information carried on or disseminated through their networks is still unsettled. We may become subject to legal claims relating to the content disseminated on our network, even though such content is owned or distributed by our customers or a customer of our customers. For example, lawsuits may be brought against us claiming that material distributed using our network was inaccurate, offensive, or violated the law or the rights of others. Claims could also involve matters such as defamation, invasion of privacy and copyright infringement. In addition, the law remains unclear over whether content may be distributed from one jurisdiction, where the content is legal, into another jurisdiction, where it is not. Companies operating private networks have been sued in the past, sometimes successfully, based on the nature of material distributed, even if the content is not owned by the network operator and the network operator has no knowledge of the content or its legality. It is not practical for us to monitor all of the content which is distributed using our network. If we need to take costly measures to reduce our exposure to these risks, or are required to defend ourselves against such claims, our financial results could be negatively affected.
The need to obtain additional capacity for our network from other providers increases our costs.
We use network resources owned by other companies for portions of our network in North America, in Europe and elsewhere. We obtain the right to use such network portions, including both telecommunications capacity and rights to use dark fiber, through operating leases and IRU agreements. In several of those agreements, the counter party is responsible for network maintenance and repair. If a counter party to a lease or IRU suffers financial distress or bankruptcy, we may not be able to enforce our rights to use these network assets or, even if we could continue to use these network assets, we could incur material expenses related to maintenance and repair. We could also incur material expenses if we were required to locate alternative network assets. We may not be successful in obtaining reasonable alternative network assets if needed. Failure to obtain usage of alternative network assets, if necessary, could have a material adverse effect on our ability to carry on business operations. In addition, some of our agreements with other providers require the payment of amounts for services whether or not those services are used.
In the normal course of business, we need to enter into interconnection agreements with many domestic and foreign local telephone companies, but we are not always able to do so on favorable terms. Costs of obtaining local service from other carriers comprise a significant proportion of the operating expenses of long distance carriers. Similarly, a large proportion of the costs of providing international service consists of payments to other carriers. Changes in regulation, particularly the regulation of local and international telecommunication carriers, could indirectly, but significantly, affect our competitive position. These changes could increase or decrease the costs of providing our services.
We may be unable to hire and retain sufficient qualified personnel; the loss of any of our key executive officers could adversely affect our business.
We believe that our future success will depend in large part on our ability to attract and retain highly skilled, knowledgeable, sophisticated and qualified managerial, professional and technical personnel. We have experienced significant competition in attracting and retaining personnel who possess the skills that we are seeking. As a result of this significant competition, we may experience a shortage of qualified personnel.
Our businesses are managed by a small number of key executive officers, including James Q. Crowe, Chief Executive Officer. The loss of any of these key executive officers could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We must obtain and maintain permits and rights-of-way to operate our network.
If we are unable, on acceptable terms and on a timely basis, to obtain and maintain the franchises, permits and rights-of-way needed to expand and operate our network, our business could be materially adversely affected. In addition, the cancellation or non-renewal of the franchises, permits or rights-of-way that are obtained could materially adversely affect our business. Our communications operating subsidiaries are defendants in several lawsuits that, among other things, challenge the subsidiaries' use of rights-of-way. The plaintiffs have sought to have these lawsuits certified as class actions. It is possible that additional suits challenging use of our rights-of-way will be filed and that those plaintiffs also may seek class certification. The outcome of such litigation may increase our costs and adversely affect our operating results.
Termination of relationships with key suppliers could cause delay and additional costs.
Our business is dependent on third-party suppliers for fiber, computers, software, optronics, transmission electronics and related components that are integrated into our network, some of which are critical to the operation of our business. If any of these critical relationships is terminated, a supplier either exits or curtails its business as a result of the current economic conditions, a supplier fails to provide critical services or equipment, or the supplier is forced to stop providing services due to legal constraints, such as patent infringement, and we are unable to reach suitable alternative arrangements quickly, we may experience significant additional costs or we may not be able to provide certain services to customers. If that happens, our business could be materially adversely affected.
AT&T and Verizon may not provide us local access services at prices which allow us to effectively compete.
We acquire a significant portion of our local access services, the connection between our owned network and the customer premises, from incumbent local exchange carriers or ILECs. With the recent acquisitions by AT&T and Verizon, the ILECs now compete directly with our business and may have a tendency to favor themselves and their affiliates to our detriment. Network access represents a very large portion of our total costs and if we face less favorable pricing and provisioning, we may be at a competitive disadvantage to the ILECs.
We are subject to significant regulation that could change in an adverse manner.
Communications services are subject to significant regulation at the federal, state, local and international levels. These regulations affect our business and our existing and potential competitors. Delays in receiving required regulatory approvals (including approvals relating to acquisitions or financing activities), completing interconnection agreements with other carriers, or the enactment of new and adverse regulations or regulatory requirements may have a material adverse effect on our business. In addition, future legislative, judicial and regulatory agency actions could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Federal legislation provides for a significant deregulation of the U.S. telecommunications industry, including the local exchange, long distance and cable television industries. This legislation remains subject to judicial review and additional Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, rulemaking. As a result, we cannot predict the legislation's effect on our future operations. Many regulatory actions are under way or are being contemplated by federal and state authorities regarding important issues. These actions could have a material adverse effect on our business.
The laws in certain countries currently do not permit us to offer services directly in those countries.
Ownership of telecommunications facilities that originate or terminate traffic in certain countries, such as Canada and China, is currently limited to nationals of those countries. This restriction hinders our entry into those markets.
Potential regulation of Internet service providers in the United States could adversely affect our operations.
The FCC has, to date, treated Internet service providers as enhanced service providers. In addition, Congress has, to date, not sought to heavily regulate the provision of IP-based services. Both Congress and the FCC are considering proposals that involve greater regulation of IP-based service providers. Depending on the content and scope of any regulations, the imposition of such regulations could have a material adverse effect on our business and the profitability of our services.
The communications industry is highly competitive with participants that have greater resources and a greater number of existing customers.
The communications industry is highly competitive. Many of our existing and potential competitors have financial, personnel, marketing and other resources significantly greater than ours. Many of these competitors have the added competitive advantage of a larger existing customer base. In addition, significant new competition could arise as a result of:
If we are unable to compete successfully, our business could be significantly affected.
We may be unable to successfully identify, manage and assimilate future acquisitions, investments and strategic alliances, which could adversely affect our results of operations.
We continually evaluate potential investments and strategic opportunities to expand our network, enhance connectivity and add traffic to our network. In the future, we may seek additional investments, strategic alliances or similar arrangements, which may expose us to risks such as:
There can be no assurance that we would successfully overcome these risks or any other problems encountered with these investments, strategic alliances or similar arrangements.
Environmental liabilities from our historical operations could be material.
There could be environmental liabilities arising from historical operations of our predecessors, for which we may be liable. Our operations and properties are subject to a wide variety of laws and regulations relating to environmental protection, human health and safety. These laws and regulations include those concerning the use and management of hazardous and non-hazardous substances and wastes. We have made and will continue to make significant expenditures relating to our environmental compliance obligations. Despite our best efforts, we may not at all times be in compliance with all of these requirements.
In connection with certain historical operations, we have responded to or been notified of potential environmental liability at approximately 150 properties as of February 15, 2009. We are engaged in addressing or have liquidated environmental liabilities at 72 of those properties. Of these: (a) we have formal commitments or other potential future costs at 15 sites; (b) there are 10 sites with minimal future costs; (c) there are 12 sites with unknown future costs and (d) there are 35 sites with no likely future costs. The remaining 78 properties have been dormant for several years. We could be held liable, jointly or severally, and without regard to fault, for such investigation and remediation. The discovery of additional environmental liabilities related to historical operations or changes in existing environmental requirements could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Potential liabilities and claims arising from coal operations could be significant.
Our coal operations are subject to extensive laws and regulations that impose stringent operational, maintenance, financial assurance, environmental compliance, reclamation, restoration and closure requirements. These requirements include those governing air and water emissions, waste disposal, worker health and safety, benefits for current and retired coal miners, and other general permitting and licensing requirements. Despite our best efforts, we may not at all times be in compliance with all of these requirements. Liabilities or claims associated with this non-compliance could require us to incur material costs or suspend production. Mine reclamation costs that exceed reserves for these matters also could require us to incur material costs.
If we are unable to comply with the restrictions and covenants in our debt agreements, there would be a default under the terms of these agreements, and this could result in an acceleration of payment of funds that have been borrowed.
If we were unable to comply with the restrictions and covenants in any of our debt agreements, there would be a default under the terms of those agreements. As a result, borrowings under other debt instruments that contain cross-acceleration or cross-default provisions may also be accelerated and become due and payable. If any of these events occur, there can be no assurance that we would be able to make necessary payments to the lenders or that we would be able to find alternative financing. Even if we were able to obtain alternative financing, there can be no assurance that it would be on terms that are acceptable.
We have substantial debt, which may hinder our growth and put us at a competitive disadvantage.
Our substantial debt may have important consequences, including the following:
We had deficiencies of earnings to cover fixed charges of $236 million for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008, $1.068 billion for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007, $720 million for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2006, $634 million for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2005, and $409 million for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2004.
We may not be able to repay our existing debt; failure to do so or refinance the debt could prevent us from implementing our strategy and realizing anticipated profits.
If we were unable to refinance our debt or to raise additional capital on acceptable terms, our ability to operate our business would be impaired. As of December 31, 2008, we had an aggregate of approximately $6.580 billion of long-term debt on a consolidated basis, including current maturities, premiums and discounts, capital leases and our commercial mortgage, and approximately $876 million of stockholders' equity. Of this long-term debt, approximately $186 million is due to mature in 2009, approximately $583 million is due to mature in 2010 and approximately $569 million is due to mature in 2011, in each case excluding issue discounts, premiums and fair value adjustments.
Our ability to make interest and principal payments on our debt and borrow additional funds on favorable terms depends on the future performance of the business. If we do not have enough cash flow in the future to make interest or principal payments on our debt, we may be required to refinance all or a part of our debt or to raise additional capital. We cannot be sure that we will be able to refinance our debt or raise additional capital on acceptable terms.
Restrictions and covenants in our debt agreements limit our ability to conduct our business and could prevent us from obtaining needed funds in the future.
Our debt and financing arrangements contain a number of significant limitations that restrict our ability to, among other things:
The unpredictability of our quarterly results may adversely affect the trading price of our common stock.
Our revenue and operating results will vary significantly from quarter to quarter due to a number of factors, many of which are outside of our control and any of which may cause the price of our common stock to fluctuate. The primary factors, among other things, that may affect our quarterly results include the following:
A delay in generating revenue or the timing of recognizing revenue and expenses could cause significant variations in our operating results from quarter to quarter. It is possible that in some future quarters our results may be below analysts and investors expectations. In these circumstances, the price of our common stock will likely decrease.
If certain transactions occur with respect to our capital stock, we may be unable to fully utilize our net operating loss carryforwards to reduce our income taxes.
As of December 31, 2008, we had net operating loss carry forwards of approximately $4.7 billion for federal income tax purposes. If certain transactions occur with respect to our capital stock that result in a cumulative ownership change of more than 50 percentage points by 5-percent stockholders over a three-year period as determined under rules prescribed by the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the "Code") and applicable regulations, annual limitations would be imposed with respect to our ability to utilize our net operating loss carry forwards and certain current deductions against any taxable income we achieve in future periods.
We have entered into transactions over the applicable three year period that, when combined with other changes in ownership that are outside of our control, have resulted in cumulative changes in the ownership of our capital stock. Additional transactions that we enter into, as well as transactions by existing 5% stockholders and transactions by holders that become new 5% stockholders that we do not participate in, could cause us to incur a 50 percentage point ownership change by 5% stockholders and, if we trigger the above-noted Code imposed limitations, such transactions would prevent us from fully utilizing net operating loss carry forwards and certain current deductions to reduce income taxes.
Increased scrutiny of financial disclosure, particularly in the telecommunications industry in which we operate, could adversely affect investor confidence, and any restatement of earnings could increase litigation risks and limit our ability to access the capital markets.
Congress, the SEC, other regulatory authorities and the media are intensely scrutinizing a number of financial reporting issues and practices. If we were required to restate our financial statements as a result of a determination that we had incorrectly applied generally accepted accounting principles or as a result of other factors or errors, that restatement could adversely affect our ability to access the capital markets or the trading price of our securities. The recent scrutiny regarding financial reporting has also resulted in an increase in litigation in the telecommunications industry. There can be no
assurance that any such litigation against us would not materially adversely affect our business or the trading price of our securities.
Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence or war may adversely affect the financial markets and our business.
Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent events, there has been considerable uncertainty in world financial markets. The full effect on the financial markets of these events, as well as concerns about future terrorist attacks, is not yet known. They could, however, adversely affect our ability to obtain financing on terms acceptable to us, or at all.
There can be no assurance that there will not be further terrorist attacks against the United States or U.S. businesses. These attacks or armed conflicts may directly affect our physical facilities or those of our customers. These events could cause consumer confidence and spending to decrease or result in increased volatility in the U.S. and world financial markets and economy. Any of these occurrences could materially adversely affect our business.
Our international operations and investments expose us to risks that could materially adversely affect the business.
We have operations and investments outside of the United States, as well as rights to undersea cable capacity extending to other countries, that expose us to risks inherent in international operations. These include:
Additional issuances of equity securities by us would dilute the ownership of our existing stockholders.
We may issue equity in the future in connection with acquisitions or strategic transactions, to adjust our ratio of debt to equity, including through repayment of outstanding debt, to fund expansion of our operations or for other purposes. To the extent we issue additional equity securities, the percentage ownership of our existing stockholders would be reduced.
Anti-takeover provisions in our charter and by-laws could limit the share price and delay a change of management.
Our restated certificate of incorporation and by-laws contain provisions that could make it more difficult or even prevent a third party from acquiring us without the approval of our incumbent board of directors. These provisions, among other things:
In addition, the terms of most of our long term debt require that upon a "change of control," as defined in the agreements that contain the terms and conditions of the long term debt, we make an offer to purchase the outstanding long term debt at either 100% or 101% of the aggregate principal amount of that long term debt.
These provisions could limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock and significantly impede the ability of the holders of our common stock to change management. Provisions and agreements that inhibit or discourage takeover attempts could reduce the market value of our common stock.
If a large number of shares of our common stock is sold in the public market, the sales could reduce the trading price of our common stock and impede our ability to raise future capital.
We cannot predict what effect, if any, future issuances by us of our common stock will have on the market price of our common stock. In addition, shares of our common stock that we issue in connection with an acquisition may not be subject to resale restrictions. The market price of our common stock could drop significantly if certain large holders of our common stock, or recipients of our common stock in connection with an acquisition, sell all or a significant portion of their shares of common stock or are perceived by the market as intending to sell these shares other than in an orderly manner. In addition, these sales could impair our ability in the future to raise capital through the sale of additional common stock in the capital markets.
The market price of our common stock has been volatile and, in the future, the market price of our common stock may fluctuate substantially due to a variety of factors.
The market price of our common stock has been subject to volatility and, in the future, the market price of our common stock may fluctuate substantially due to a variety of factors, including:
In addition, in recent months the stock market generally has experienced significant price and volume fluctuations. Those market fluctuations could have a material adverse effect on the market price or liquidity of our common stock.
Our headquarters are located on 46 acres in the Interlocken Advanced Technology Environment within the City and County of Broomfield, Colorado. The campus facility, which is owned by our wholly owned subsidiary HQ Realty, Inc., encompasses approximately 850,000 square feet of office space.
Additionally, we lease approximately 120,000 square feet of office and technical space in a building located at 180 Peachtree Street, NW in Atlanta, Georgia. We also lease approximately 143,000 square feet of office and technical space in the building known as One Technology Center located at 100 South Cincinnati Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma and approximately 42,000 square feet of office space in the Southpointe office park in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. We also use approximately 8,900 square feet of office space that we own in the building located at 200 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We also lease approximately 128,000 square feet of office space in a building located at 1122 South Capital of Texas Highway in Austin, Texas. In Europe, we have approximately 211,000 square feet of office space in the United Kingdom and approximately 3,000 square feet of office space in France.
Properties relating to our network operations in the communications business are described under "ITEM 1. BUSINESSOur Communications Network" above.
Our Gateway facilities are designed to house local sales staff, operational staff, our transmission and IP routing/switching facilities and technical space to accommodate colocation of equipment by high-volume Level 3 customers. We ended 2008 with approximately 6.9 million square feet of space for our Gateway and transmission facilities and have completed construction on approximately 4.6 million square feet of this space. Our Gateway space is either owned by us or is held pursuant to long-term lease agreements.
We have entered into various agreements regarding our unused office and technical space in order to reduce our ongoing operating expenses regarding such space.
Properties relating to our coal mining segment are described under "ITEM 1. BUSINESSOur Other Businesses" above. In connection with certain existing and historical operations, we are subject to environmental risks.
In April 2002, Level 3 Communications, Inc., and two of its subsidiaries were named as defendants in Bauer, et. al. v. Level 3 Communications, LLC, et al., a purported class action covering 22 states, filed in state court in Madison County, Illinois. In July 2001, Level 3 was named as a defendant in Koyle, et. al. v. Level 3 Communications, Inc., et. al., a purported two state class action filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. In November of 2005, the court granted class certification only for the state of Idaho. In September 2002, Level 3 Communications, LLC and Williams Communications, LLC were named as defendants in Smith et. al. v. Sprint Communications Company, L.P., et al., a purported nationwide class action filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In April 2005, the Smith plaintiffs filed a Fourth Amended Complaint which did not include Level 3 or Williams Communications, Inc. as a party, thus ending both companies' involvement in the Smith case. On February 17, 2005, Level 3 Communications, LLC and Williams Communications, LLC were named as defendants in McDaniel, et. al., v. Qwest Communications Corporation, et al., a purported class action
covering 10 states filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. All of these actions involve the companies' right to install its fiber optic cable network in easements and right-of-ways crossing the plaintiffs' land. In general, the companies obtained the rights to construct their networks from railroads, utilities, and others, and have installed their networks along the rights-of-way so granted. Plaintiffs in the purported class actions assert that they are the owners of lands over which the companies' fiber optic cable networks pass, and that the railroads, utilities, and others who granted the companies the right to construct and maintain their networks did not have the legal authority to do so. The complaints seek damages on theories of trespass, unjust enrichment and slander of title and property, as well as punitive damages. The companies have also received, and may in the future receive, claims and demands related to rights-of-way issues similar to the issues in these cases that may be based on similar or different legal theories.
The Company and its subsidiaries have negotiated a proposed nationwide class settlement affecting persons who own or owned land next to or near railroad rights of way. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Kingsborough v. Sprint Communications Co. L.P. has granted preliminary approval of the proposed settlement which, if finally approved, will resolve all of the pending actions. The proposed settlement will provide cash payments to class members based on various factors that include:
The proposed settlement will also provide the Company and its subsidiaries with a permanent telecommunications easement, which gives them certain rights over the railroad right of way.
It is still too early for the Company to reach a conclusion as to the ultimate outcome of the proposed settlement of these actions. However, management believes that the Company and its subsidiaries have substantial defenses to the claims asserted in all of these actions (and any similar claims which may be named in the future), and intends to defend them vigorously if a satisfactory form of settlement is not ultimately approved. Additionally, management believes that any resulting liabilities for these actions, beyond amounts reserved, will not materially affect the Company's financial condition or future results of operations, but could affect future cash flows.
In February 2009, Level 3 Communications, Inc., certain of its current officers and a former officer were named as defendants in purported class action lawsuits filed in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, which have been consolidated as In re Level 3 Communications, Inc. Securities Litigation (Civil Case No. 09-cv-00200-PAB-CBS). The Plaintiffs in each complaint allege, in general, that throughout the purported class period of February 8, 2007 to October 23, 2007, the defendants failed to disclose material adverse facts about the Company's business and operations. Specifically, defendants failed to disclose or indicate the following: (1) that the Company's efforts to integrate the numerous acquired companies were not going well; (2) that, specifically, the Company was experiencing an increase in service activation times, which was negatively impacting the Company's service installation intervals and the rate of its revenue growth; (3) that the Company was also experiencing challenges in its service management processes that were resulting in longer response times to resolve customer's network service issues; (4) that steps taken by the Company to remedy the problems were not working and actually, further complicating the issues and making them worse; (5) that, as a result of the above, the Company did not have adequate provisioning capability to convert its increasing sales, or signed orders, into revenue generating service; (6) that the Company lacked adequate internal controls; and (7) that, as a result of the above, the statements made by the defendants during the purported class period lacked a reasonable basis. The complaints seek damages based on purported violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Securities and
Exchange Commission Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder and Section 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
It is too early for the Company to reach a conclusion as to the ultimate outcome of these actions. However, management believes that the Company has substantial defenses to the claims asserted in all of these actions (and any similar claims which may be named in the future), and intends to defend these actions vigorously.
The Company and its subsidiaries are parties to many other legal proceedings. Management believes that any resulting liabilities for these legal proceedings, beyond amounts reserved, will not materially affect the Company's financial condition or future results of operations, but could affect future cash flows.
No matters were submitted during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year covered by this report to a vote of security holders, through the solicitation of proxies or otherwise.
Market Information. Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market of The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC under the symbol "LVLT." As of February 25, 2009, there were approximately 7,900 holders of record of our common stock, par value $.01 per share. The table below sets forth, for the calendar quarters indicated, the high and low per share sale prices of our common stock as reported by the NASDAQ Global Select Market of The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC.
We have only one equity compensation planThe 1995 Stock Plan, as amendedunder which we may issue shares of our common stock to employees, officers, directors and consultants. This plan has been approved by our stockholders. The following table provides information about the shares of our common stock that may be issued upon exercise of awards under the 1995 Stock Plan as of December 31, 2008.
OSOs are currently designed to provide recipients of the awards with the incentive to maximize stockholder value and to reward recipient employees only when the price of our common stock outperforms the S&P 500® Index between the date of grant and the date that the OSO is exercised or settled. For the OSOs granted beginning in April 2007, OSOs have a three-year life and vest 100% on
the third anniversary of the date of the award and will fully settle on that date. In other words, recipients of these OSOs will not be able to voluntarily exercise the OSOs as they will settle automatically with value on the third anniversary of the date of the award or expire without value on that date. This type of instrument is sometimes referred to as a "European style option." For OSOs granted prior to April 2007, the OSOs generally have a four-year life and vest 50% at the end of the first year after grant, with the remaining 50% vesting in four equal quarterly installments so that the OSOs are fully vested by the end of the second year after grant.
OSOs have an initial strike price that is equal to the closing market price of our common stock on the trading day immediately prior to the date of grant. This initial strike price is referred to as the "Initial Price." On the settlement date or the date that an employee elects to exercise an OSO, the Initial Price is adjustedas of that dateby a percentage that is equal to the aggregate percentage increase or decrease in the S&P 500® Index over the period beginning on the date of grant and ending on the trading day immediately preceding the settlement or exercise date. The Initial Price, however, can not be adjusted below the closing price of our common stock on the day that the OSO was granted.
The value of all OSOs will increase as the price of our common stock increases relative to the performance of the S&P® 500 Index over time. This increase in value is attributable in part to the use of a "success multiplier."
The mechanism for determining the value of an individual OSO award is described below: The Initial Price is adjusted over time (the "Adjusted Strike Price") until the settlement or exercise date. The adjustment is an amount equal to the percentage appreciation or depreciation in the value of the S&P 500® Index from the date of grant to the settlement date. The value of the OSO increases for increasing levels of outperformance. OSOs have a multiplier range from zero to four depending upon the performance of our common stock relative to the S&P 500® Index as shown in the following table.
The pre-multiplier gain is our common stock price minus the Adjusted Strike Price on the settlement or exercise date.
Dividend Policy. Our current dividend policy, in effect since April 1, 1998, is to retain future earnings for use in our business. As a result, our directors and management do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on shares of our common stock in the foreseeable future. In addition, under certain of our debt covenants we may be restricted from paying cash dividends on shares of our common stock.
The following performance graph shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference by means of any general statement incorporating by reference this Form 10-K into any filing under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, except to the extent that the company specifically incorporates such information by reference, and shall not otherwise be deemed filed under such acts.
The graph compares the cumulative total return of our common stock for the five year period from 2004 through 2008 with the S&P® 500 Index and the Nasdaq Telecommunications Index. The graph assumes that the value of the investment was $100 on December 31, 2003, and that all dividends and other distributions were reinvested.
The Selected Financial Data of Level 3 Communications, Inc. and its subsidiaries appear below.
The Company acquired the managed modem businesses of ICG Communications, Inc. and Sprint Communications Company, L.P. on April 1, 2004 and October 1, 2004, respectively.
The Company purchased WilTel Communications Group, LLC ("WilTel") on December 23, 2005, and recorded approximately $38 million of revenue attributable to this business in 2005.
The Company purchased Progress Telecom, LLC ("Progress Telecom") on March 20, 2006; ICG Communications, Inc. ("ICG Communications") on May 31, 2006; TelCove, Inc. ("TelCove") on July 24, 2006 and Looking Glass Networks Holding Co., Inc. ("Looking Glass") on August 2, 2006. The WilTel, Progress Telecom, ICG Communications, TelCove and Looking Glass results of operations and financial position are included in the consolidated financial statements from the respective dates of their acquisition. During 2006, the Company recorded revenue attributable to Progress Telecom of $49 million, ICG Communications of $46 million, TelCove of $166 million and Looking Glass of $33 million.
The Company purchased Broadwing Corporation ("Broadwing") on January 3, 2007; the Content Delivery Network services business of SAVVIS, Inc. (the "CDN Business") on January 23, 2007 and Servecast Limited on July 11, 2007. During 2007, the Company recorded revenue attributable to Broadwing of $946 million, the CDN Business of $17 million and Servecast of $3 million.
On June 5, 2008, Level 3 completed the sale of its Vyvx advertising distribution business to DG FastChannel, Inc. and received gross proceeds at closing of approximately $129 million in cash. Net proceeds from the sale approximated $121 million after deducting transaction-related costs. Revenue attributable to the Vyvx advertising distribution business totaled $15 million in 2008 through the date of sale, $36 million in 2007 and $35 million in 2006. The Vyvx businesses were acquired by the Company at the end of 2005 in the WilTel acquisition.
In 2005, the Company recognized $133 million of termination revenue and approximately $23 million of impairment and restructuring charges.
In 2006, the Company recognized approximately $13 million of impairment and restructuring charges, and a loss on early extinguishment of debt of $83 million as a result of the amendment and restatement of its senior secured credit facility and certain debt exchanges and redemptions.
In 2007, the Company recognized approximately $12 million of impairment and restructuring charges, and a loss on the early extinguishment of debt of $427 million as a result of the refinancing of its senior secured credit agreement and certain debt exchanges, redemptions and repurchases. The Company also recognized a gain of $37 million on the sale of marketable equity securities and a tax benefit of $23 million related to certain state tax matters.
In 2008, the Company recognized approximately $25 million of impairment and restructuring charges, $44 million of induced debt conversion expenses attributable to the exchange of certain of the Company's convertible debt securities, a gain on the early extinguishment of debt of $125 million as a result of certain debt repurchases, and a $99 million gain on the sale of the Company's Vyvx advertising distribution business and the sale of certain of its smaller long distance voice customers. The Company also revised its estimates of the amounts and timing of its original estimate of undiscounted cash flows related to certain future asset retirement obligations in the fourth quarter of 2008. As a result, the Company reduced its asset retirement obligations liability by $103 million with an offsetting reduction to property, plant and equipment of $21 million, selling, general and administrative expenses of $86 million, depreciation and amortization of $11 million and an increase to goodwill of $15 million.
In 2006, the Company sold Software Spectrum and recognized a gain on the sale of $33 million. The income from the operations of Software Spectrum was $13 million, $20 million and $20 million for the fiscal years 2006, 2005 and 2004, respectively.
In 2005, the Company received net proceeds of $877 million from the issuance of $880 million of 10% Convertible Senior Notes due 2011. Also in 2005, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company received net proceeds of $66 million from the completion of a refinancing of the mortgage of its
corporate headquarters. The subsidiary entered into a new mortgage loan of $70 million at an initial fixed rate of 6.86% through 2010.
In 2006, the Company received net proceeds of $142 million from the issuance by its wholly owned subsidiary of $150 million of Floating Rate Senior Notes due 2011, net proceeds of $538 million from the issuance of $550 million of 12.25% Senior Notes due 2013, net proceeds of $326 million from its issuance of $335 million of 3.5% Convertible Senior Notes due 2012 and net proceeds of $1.239 billion (excluding prepaid interest) from the issuance by its wholly owned subsidiary of $1.250 billion of 9.25% Senior Notes due 2014. Also in 2006, the Company exchanged a portion of its outstanding 9.125% Senior Notes due 2008, 11% Senior Notes due 2008 and 10.5% Senior Discount Notes due 2008 for $46 million of cash and $692 million aggregate principal of new 11.5% Senior Notes due 2010. In addition, the Company redeemed the remaining outstanding 9.125% Senior Notes due 2008 totaling $398 million, 10.5% Senior Discount Notes due 2008 totaling $62 million and repurchased 99.3% of its wholly owned subsidiary's 10.75% Senior Notes due 2011 totaling $497 million.
In 2007, the Company received net proceeds of $982 million from the issuance by its wholly owned subsidiary of 8.75% Senior Notes due 2017 and Floating Rate Senior Notes due 2015 and net proceeds of $1.382 billion for the refinancing of its senior secured credit agreement. In connection with the refinancing of the senior secured credit agreement the borrower repaid its $730 million Senior Secured Term Loan due 2011. In 2007, the Company redeemed $488 million of its outstanding 12.875% Senior Notes due 2010, $96 million of outstanding 11.25% Senior Notes due 2010 and $138 million (€104 million) of outstanding 11.25% Senior Euro Notes due 2010. Also in 2007, the Company's wholly owned subsidiary repurchased $144 million of its outstanding Floating Rate Senior Notes due 2011, the Company repurchased $59 million of its outstanding 11% Senior Notes due 2008, $677 million of its outstanding 11.5% Senior Notes due 2010 and $61 million (€46 million) of its outstanding 10.75% Senior Euro Notes due 2008. The Company also completed the exchange of $605 million of its 10% Convertible Senior Notes due 2011 for a total of 197 million shares of common stock during 2007. The Company also converted or repurchased $180 million of Broadwing's outstanding 3.125% Convertible Senior Debentures due 2026 through the issuance of 17 million shares of common stock and the payment of $106 million in cash in 2007.
In 2008, the Company received proceeds of $400 million from the issuance of its 15% Convertible Senior Notes due 2013. In connection with the issuance of the 15% Convertible Senior Notes due 2013, the Company completed tender offers and repurchased $163 million of its 2.875% Convertible Senior Notes due 2010, $173 million of its 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2010 and $124 million of its 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2009. In 2008, the Company completed exchanges with holders of various issues of its convertible debt in which the Company issued approximately 48 million shares of the Company's common stock in exchange for $18 million of its 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2009, $47 million of its 10% Convertible Senior Notes due 2011, $19 million of its 2.875% Convertible Senior Notes due 2010, $15 million of its 5.25% Convertible Senior Notes due 2011 and $9 million of its 3.5% Convertible Senior Notes due 2012. Also in 2008, the Company repurchased $39 million aggregate principal amount of its 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2009 and $32 million aggregate principal amount of its 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2010. The Company also repaid at maturity the remaining $20 million of its outstanding 11% Senior Notes due 2008 and approximately $6 million (€4 million) of its outstanding 10.75% Senior Euro Notes due 2008.
In 2005, the Company issued 115 million shares of common stock, valued at approximately $313 million, as the stock portion of the purchase price paid to acquire WilTel.
In 2006, the Company issued approximately 125 million shares of common stock in a public offering, valued at approximately $543 million.
In 2006, the Company issued 20 million shares of common stock, valued at approximately $66 million, as the stock portion of the purchase price paid to acquire Progress Telecom; 26 million shares of common stock, valued at approximately $131 million, as the stock portion of the purchase price paid to acquire ICG Communications; 150 million shares of common stock, valued at approximately $623 million, as the stock portion of the purchase price paid to acquire TelCove; and 21 million shares of common stock, valued at approximately $84 million, as the stock portion of the purchase price paid to acquire Looking Glass.
In 2007, the Company issued 197 million shares of common stock in exchange for $605 million of its 10% Convertible Senior Notes due 2011. The Company also issued 123 million shares of common stock, valued at approximately $688 million, as the stock portion of the purchase price to acquire Broadwing Corporation. Also in 2007, the Company issued 17 million shares of common stock in connection with the conversion of $179 million of Broadwing's outstanding 3.125% Convertible Senior Debentures due 2026.
In 2008, the Company issued approximately 48 million shares of common stock in exchange for $108 million aggregate principal amount of various issues of its convertible debt.
This document contains forward looking statements and information that are based on the beliefs of management as well as assumptions made by and information currently available to Level 3 Communications, Inc. and its subsidiaries ("Level 3" or the "Company"). When used in this document, the words "anticipate", "believe", "plan", "estimate" and "expect" and similar expressions, as they relate to the Company or its management, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such statements reflect the current views of the Company with respect to future events and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described in this document.
The following discussion should be read in conjunction with the Company's consolidated financial statements (including the notes thereto), included elsewhere herein.
Level 3 Communications, Inc., through its operating subsidiaries, is primarily engaged in the communications business, with additional operations in coal mining.
The Company is a facilities based provider of a broad range of communications services. Revenue for communications services is recognized on a monthly basis as these services are provided. For contracts involving private line, wavelengths and dark fiber services, Level 3 may receive up-front payments for services to be delivered for a period of generally up to 20 years. In these situations, Level 3 defers the revenue and amortizes it on a straight-line basis to earnings over the term of the contract. At December 31, 2008, for contracts where up-front payments were received for services to be delivered in the future, the Company's weighted average remaining contract period was approximately 12 years.
Communications revenue consists of:
The two categories of Communications revenue are in different phases of the service life cycle, requiring different levels of investment and focus, and providing different contributions to the Company's Communications Adjusted EBITDA. Management of Level 3 believes that growth in revenue from its Core Communications Services is critical to the long-term success of its communications business. At the same time, the Company believes it must continue to effectively manage the positive cash flows from its Other Communications Services. Core Communications Services includes revenue from Core Network Services and Wholesale Voice Services. Core Network Services revenue represents higher margin services and Wholesale Voice Services represents lower margin services. The Company believes that trends in the communications business are best gauged by looking at revenue trends in Core Network Services. The Company manages Wholesale Voice performance based on gross margin contribution. Core Network Services includes revenue from transport and infrastructure, IP and data services, including content delivery network services, local and enterprise voice services and Level 3 Vyvx broadcast services. Wholesale Voice Services includes revenue from long distance voice services, including domestic voice termination, international voice termination and toll free services. Other Communications Services includes revenue from managed modem and its related reciprocal compensation services and SBC Contract Services, which includes revenue from the "SBC Master Services Agreement", which was obtained in the December 2005 acquisition of WilTel Communications Group, LLC ("WilTel").
Core Communications Services
The Company's transport and infrastructure services include metropolitan and intercity wavelengths, private line, ethernet private line, dark fiber, colocation services, professional services and transoceanic services. Growth in transport and infrastructure revenue is largely dependent on increased demand for bandwidth services and available capital of companies requiring communications capacity for their own use or in providing capacity as a service provider to their customers. These expenditures may be in the form of monthly payments or up-front payments for private line, wavelength or dark fiber services. The Company is focused on providing end-to-end transport services to its customers to directly connect customer locations with a private network. Pricing for end-to-end services has been stable. For metropolitan transport services, prices have been stable and in some instances are increasing. For intercity transport services, the Company continues to experience pricing pressure for point-to-point locations, particularly in locations where a large number of carriers co-locate their facilities. An increase in demand may be partially offset by declines in unit pricing.
IP and data services primarily include the Company's high speed Internet access service, dedicated Internet access ("DIA") service, ATM and frame relay services, IP and ethernet virtual private network ("VPN") services, and content delivery network ("CDN") services, which includes streaming services. Level 3's Internet access service is a high quality and high-speed Internet access service offered in a variety of capacities. The Company's VPN services permit businesses of any size to replace multiple networks with a single, cost-effective solution that greatly simplifies the converged transmission of voice, video, and data. This convergence to a single platform can be obtained without sacrificing the quality of service or security levels of traditional ATM and frame relay offerings. VPN services also permit customers to prioritize network application traffic so that high priority applications, such as voice and video, are not compromised in performance by the flow of low priority applications such as email.
The Company believes that one of the largest sources of future incremental demand for the Company's Core Communications Services will be from customers that are seeking to distribute their feature rich content or video over the Internet. Revenue growth in this area is dependent on the continued increase in usage by both enterprises and consumers and the pricing environment. An increase in the reliability and security of information transmitted over the Internet and declines in the cost to transmit data have resulted in increased utilization of e-commerce or web based services by businesses. Although the pricing for data services is currently stable, the IP market is generally characterized by price compression and high unit growth rates depending upon the type of service, resulting in growth in absolute revenue. The Company experienced price compression in the high-speed IP market in 2008 and expects that pricing for its high-speed IP services will continue to decline in 2009.
The Company's Core Network Services includes local and enterprise voice services. Local voice services are primarily components that enable other service providers to deliver business or consumer-ready voice products to their end customers. Enterprise voice services are business-grade voice services that the Company sells directly to its business customers.
The Company, through its Level 3 Vyvx business, provides transport services for the audio and video programming of its customers over the Company's fiber-optic network and via satellite. It uses the Company's fiber-optic network to carry live traditional broadcast and cable television events from the site of the event to the network control centers of the broadcasters of the event.
For live events where the location is not known in advance, such as breaking news stories in remote locations, the Company provides an integrated satellite and fiber-optic network-based service to transmit the content to its customers. Most of Level 3 Vyvx's customers for these services contract for the service on an event-by-event basis; however, there are some customers who have purchased a dedicated point-to-point service which enables these customers to transmit programming at any time.
Prior to the sale of the Vyvx advertising distribution business, Level 3 Vyvx distributed advertising spots to radio and television stations throughout the U.S., both electronically and in physical form. Customers for these services utilized a network-based method for aggregating, managing, storing and distributing content for content owners and rights holders.
On June 5, 2008, Level 3 completed the sale of its Vyvx advertising distribution business to DG FastChannel, Inc. and received gross proceeds at closing of approximately $129 million in cash. Level 3 has retained ownership of Vyvx's core broadcast business, including the Vyvx Services Broadcast Business' content distribution capabilities.
The financial results of the Vyvx advertising distribution business are included in the Company's consolidated results of operations through the date of sale on June 5, 2008.
Level 3 recognized a gain on the sale of the Vyvx advertising distribution business of $96 million in 2008. The gain is presented in the consolidated statements of operations as "Gain on sale of business groups, net."
The Company has developed content distribution services through the acquisition of the Content Delivery Network services business ("CDN Business") of SAVVIS, which it purchased in January 2007 from SAVVIS, and the acquisition of Dublin, Ireland based Servecast Ltd., which it purchased in July 2007. The Company believes that the addition of the CDN Business with its strong, broad portfolio of patents will help the Company secure its commercial efforts in the heavily patented CDN market, in which a number of competitors have significant, patented intellectual property. Level 3 believes that one of the largest sources of future incremental demand for communications services will be derived from customers that are seeking to distribute their feature rich content or video over the Internet.
The Company offers Wholesale Voice Services that target large and existing markets. The revenue potential for Wholesale Voice Services is large; however, the pricing and margins are expected to continue to decline over time as a result of the new low-cost IP and optical-based technologies. In addition, the market for Wholesale Voice Services is being targeted by many competitors, several of which are larger and have more financial resources than the Company.
Core Communications Services Market Groups
In order to serve the changing needs of customers in growing markets and to drive growth across the Communications organization, Core Communications Services revenue by customer is also disaggregated into four customer-facing market groups as follows:
cable operators, Internet service providers, content providers, and government and education sectors.
The Company believes that the alignment of Core Communications Services around customer markets should allow it to drive growth while enabling it to better focus on the needs of its customers. Each of these groups is supported by dedicated employees in sales and marketing. Each of these groups is also supported by non-dedicated, centralized service or product management and development, corporate marketing, global network services, engineering, information technology, and corporate functions including legal, finance, strategy and human resources.
Core Communications Services revenue by customer-facing market group was as follows:
The classification of customers within each customer-facing market group can change based upon sales team assignments, merger and acquisition activity by customers and other factors.
Other Communications Services
The Company's Other Communications Services are mature services that are not critical areas of emphasis for the Company. Other Communications Services includes revenue from managed modem and its related reciprocal compensation services and SBC Contract Services, which includes revenue derived under the SBC Master Services Agreement that was obtained in the WilTel acquisition. The Company and its customers continue to see consumers migrate from narrow band dial-up services to higher speed broadband services as the narrow band market matures. Additionally, America Online, a primary consumer of the Company's dial-up services, has been implementing a strategic change in its approach to its dial-up internet access business over the past few years that has accelerated the loss of its dial-up subscribers. During 2007, America Online's strategy accelerated the decline in managed modem revenue and contributed to further declines in managed modem revenue in 2008. The Company recognized approximately $103 million of managed modem revenue in 2008, a 35% decline from the $158 million of managed modem revenue recognized in 2007. The declines in managed modem revenue from America Online have been offset to some extent by an increase in market share as a result of certain competitors exiting segments of this business. The Company believes that the low-cost structure of its network will enable it to compete aggressively for new business in the declining managed modem market.
The Company receives compensation from other carriers when it terminates traffic originating on those carriers' networks. This reciprocal compensation is based on interconnection agreements with the respective carriers or rates mandated by the FCC. The Company has interconnection agreements in place for the majority of traffic subject to reciprocal compensation. In addition, a majority of the Company's existing reciprocal compensation revenue is associated with agreements that are in effect through 2009 or beyond. The Company continues to negotiate new interconnection agreements or amendments to its existing interconnection agreements with local carriers as needed. The Company earns the majority of its reciprocal compensation revenue from providing managed modem services. The Company also receives reciprocal compensation from its voice services.
Communications Business Strategy and Objectives
The Company's management continues to review all existing lines of business and service offerings to determine how those lines of business and service offerings enhance the Company's focus on delivery of communications services and meeting its financial objectives. To the extent that certain lines of business, business groups or service offerings are not considered to be compatible with the delivery of the Company's services or with meeting its financial objectives, Level 3 may exit those lines of business or stop offering those services.
The Company is focusing its attention on the following operational and financial objectives:
The Company's management believes the introduction of new services or technologies, as well as the further development of existing technologies, may reduce the cost or increase the supply of certain services similar to those provided by Level 3. The ability of the Company to anticipate, adapt and invest in these technology changes in a timely manner may affect the Company's future success.
In 2006, the Company strategically expanded its presence in metropolitan markets and began offering services to enterprise customers through its Business Markets Group. This strategy allowed the Company to terminate traffic over its owned facilities rather than paying third parties to terminate the traffic. The expansion into new metro markets also provided additional opportunities to sell services to bandwidth intensive businesses on the Company's national and international networks. In order to expedite the expansion of its metro business, Level 3 acquired Progress Telecom, ICG Communications, TelCove and Looking Glass in 2006 and Broadwing in the first quarter of 2007. Level 3 also strategically expanded its content delivery network services with the acquisitions of the CDN Business in the first quarter of 2007 and Servecast in the third quarter of 2007. The results of operations attributable to each acquisition are included in the consolidated financial statements from the date of acquisition. Below is a summary of the Company's 2007 and 2006 acquisitions.
Servecast Acquisition: On July 11, 2007, Level 3 completed the acquisition of Servecast Limited, a Dublin, Ireland based provider of live and on-demand video management and streaming services for broadband and mobile platforms. Level 3 paid approximately €34 million, or $46 million, in cash, including transaction costs, to complete the acquisition of Servecast.
CDN Business Acquisition: On January 23, 2007, Level 3 completed the acquisition of the Content Delivery Network services business of SAVVIS, Inc. Level 3 paid approximately $133 million in cash,
including transaction costs, to acquire the assets of the CDN Business, including network elements, customer contracts and intellectual property used in the CDN Business.
Broadwing Acquisition: On January 3, 2007, Level 3 acquired Broadwing, a publicly held provider of optical network communications services. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Level 3 paid $8.18 of cash plus 1.3411 shares of Level 3 common stock for each share of Broadwing common stock outstanding at closing. In total, Level 3 paid approximately $755 million of cash, including transaction costs, and issued approximately 123 million shares of the Company's common stock, valued at $688 million. As part of the Broadwing acquisition, approximately 3.8 million previously issued Broadwing warrants (valued at approximately $4 million) became exercisable for approximately 5.1 million shares of Level 3 common stock.
In connection with the acquisition of Broadwing, the Company guaranteed $180 million in aggregate principal amount of Broadwing Corporation's 3.125% Convertible Senior Debentures due 2026 (the "Broadwing Debentures") and the transaction included $24 million in capital lease obligations related primarily to a metro fiber IRU agreement. As of February 16, 2007, the holders of $179 million in aggregate principal amount of the Broadwing Debentures converted their Broadwing Debentures into a total of 17 million shares of Level 3 common stock and approximately $105 million in cash pursuant to the terms of the indenture governing the Broadwing Debentures and the agreement whereby Level 3 acquired Broadwing. The remaining $1 million in aggregate principal amount of the Broadwing Debentures was repurchased by Broadwing at 100% of par as required by the indenture governing the Broadwing Debentures.
Looking Glass Acquisition: On August 2, 2006, Level 3 completed the acquisition of Looking Glass, a privately held Illinois-based telecommunications company. The consideration paid by Level 3 consisted of approximately $13 million in cash, including transaction costs, and approximately 21 million shares of Level 3 common stock valued at $84 million. In addition, at the closing, Level 3 repaid approximately $67 million of Looking Glass liabilities.
TelCove Acquisition: On July 24, 2006, Level 3 completed the acquisition of TelCove, a privately held Pennsylvania-based telecommunications company. The consideration paid by Level 3 consisted of approximately $461 million in cash, including transaction costs, and approximately 150 million shares of Level 3 common stock valued at $623 million. In addition, Level 3 repaid approximately $132 million of TelCove liabilities.
ICG Communications: On May 31, 2006, Level 3 acquired all of the stock of ICG Communications, a privately held Colorado-based telecommunications company, from MCCC ICG Holdings, LLC excluding certain assets and liabilities. Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Level 3 purchased ICG Communications for aggregate consideration consisting of approximately 26 million shares of Level 3 common stock, valued at $131 million, and approximately $47 million in cash, including transaction costs and working capital adjustments.
Progress Telecom: On March 20, 2006, Level 3 completed its acquisition of all of the membership interests of Progress Telecom from PT Holding Company LLC ("PT Holding") excluding certain specified assets and liabilities of Progress Telecom. Progress Telecom was owned by PT Holding which is jointly owned by Progress Energy, Inc. and Odyssey Telecorp, Inc. Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Level 3 purchased Progress Telecom for an aggregate purchase price consisting of approximately $68 million in cash, including transaction costs and working capital adjustments, and approximately 20 million shares of Level 3 common stock, valued at $66 million.
Level 3 will continue to evaluate acquisition opportunities and could make additional acquisitions in the future.
The successful integration of acquired businesses into Level 3 is important to the success of Level 3. The Company must continue to identify synergies and integrate acquired networks and support organizations, while maintaining the service quality levels expected by customers to realize the anticipated benefits of these acquisitions. Successful integration of these acquired businesses continues to depend on the Company's ability to manage these operations, realize opportunities for revenue growth presented by strengthened service offerings and expanded geographic market coverage, and to eliminate redundant and excess costs to fully realize the expected synergies. If the Company is not able to efficiently and effectively continue to integrate the acquired businesses or operations, the Company may experience material negative consequences to its business, financial condition or results of operations.
In 2007, during the second quarter and portions of the third quarter, the Company's service activation times increased as a result of the following issues:
This increase in service activation cycle time had a negative effect on the Company's service installation intervals and the rate of Core Communications Services revenue growth during 2007. During this same period, the Company also experienced challenges in its service management processes that resulted in longer response times to resolve customer's network service issues. As a result of consolidating key operational functions and organizations as part of the integration effort, the Company's operating environment became more complex in the first half of 2007.
During the second and third quarters of 2007, the Company implemented certain process and organizational changes that were expected to improve service activation times and allow it to achieve its previously forecasted revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth. However, these changes were not adequate to address the breadth of the problems encountered during the second and third quarters of 2007. As a result of these service activation and service management issues, the growth in Communications Services revenue and Adjusted EBITDA was lower than originally expected for the full year 2007.
The Company has taken steps to improve its existing processes and systems to address the increase in service activation times and improve its service management. With respect to the latter, the Company saw improvements in its service management during the fourth quarter of 2007 and in 2008. Additionally, the Company believes it has implemented sufficient improvements in service activation capabilities to match installation capacity to customer demand for services.
The Company has ongoing process and system development work that is being implemented as part of the integration efforts which have and are expected to further address the service activation and service management issues of systems and processes utilized by acquired companies as well as provide significant overall improvements to operations. The Company completed the foundation of its processes and systems development objectives at the end of 2008 and is now focused on operational efficiency improvements.
Recent changes in the composition of the Company's revenue have required the Company to manage operating expenses carefully and to concentrate its capital expenditures on those technologies and assets that enable the Company to develop its Core Communications Services further and replace the decline in revenue and earnings from Other Communications Services. Recent uncertainty in the
global financial markets and economy has also required the Company to continue to manage its cost structure more efficiently. In addition, our operating results and financial condition could be negatively affected if as a result of economic conditions:
In addition to the operational objectives mentioned above, the Company has also been focused on improving its liquidity, financial condition, and extending the maturity dates of certain debt.
In December 2008, the Company completed tender offers for and repurchased $163 million in the aggregate of its 2.875% Convertible Senior Notes due 2010, $173 million of its 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2010 and $124 million of its 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2009. In connection with the completion of the tender offers, the Company issued $400 million aggregate principal amount of its 15% Convertible Senior Notes due 2013.
In October 2008, the Company completed exchanges with holders of various issues of its convertible debt in which the Company issued approximately 48 million shares of the Company's common stock in exchange for $18 million of its 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2009, $47 million of its 10% Convertible Senior Notes due 2011, $19 million of its 2.875% Convertible Senior Notes due 2010, $15 million of its 5.25% Convertible Senior Notes due 2011 and $9 million of its 3.5% Convertible Senior Notes due 2012.
The Company will continue to look for opportunities to improve its financial position and focus its resources on growing revenue and managing costs for the communications business.
Level 3, through its two 50% owned joint-venture surface mines, one each in Montana and Wyoming, sells coal primarily through long-term contracts with public utilities. The long-term contracts for the delivery of coal establish the price, volume, and quality requirements of the coal to be delivered. Revenue under these and other contracts is generally recognized when coal is shipped to the customer.
On November 30, 2005, the Company sold its wholly owned subsidiary, (i)Structure, LLC, which provided computer outsourcing services primarily to small and medium-sized businesses. The Company also completed the disposition of its remaining subsidiary in the information services business, Software Spectrum, Inc. on September 7, 2006. The results of operations and financial position for (i)Structure and Software Spectrum are reflected as discontinued operations for all applicable periods presented in this report.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
The Company's discussion and analysis of its financial condition and results of operations are based upon the Company's consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. The preparation of these financial statements requires the Company to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of
assets, liabilities, revenue, expenses and related disclosures. The Company bases its estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. The Company evaluates these estimates on an ongoing basis. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.
While the Company has other accounting policies that involve estimates such as the allowance for doubtful accounts, revenue reserves, useful lives of long-lived assets, accruals for estimated tax and legal liabilities, cost of revenue disputes for communications services, valuation allowance for deferred tax assets, and unfavorable contracts recognized in purchase accounting, management has identified the policies below, which require the most significant judgments and estimates to be made in the preparation of the consolidated financial statements, as critical to its business operations and the understanding of its results of operations.
Revenue for communications services, including transport, infrastructure, data, colocation, IP, Vyvx broadcast, voice, and managed modem, is recognized monthly as the services are provided. Communications services are provided either on a usage basis, which can vary period to period, or at a contractually committed amount.
Reciprocal compensation revenue is recognized when an interconnection agreement is in place with another carrier, or if an agreement has expired, when the parties have agreed to continue operating under the previous agreement until a new agreement is negotiated and executed; or at rates mandated by the FCC. Periodically, the Company will receive payment for reciprocal compensation services in excess of FCC rates and before an agreement is in place. These amounts are included in other current liabilities on the consolidated balance sheets until a final agreement has been reached and the necessary regulatory approvals have been received at which time the reciprocal compensation revenue is recognized. These amounts were insignificant to the Company in 2008, 2007 and 2006.
Revenue attributable to leases of dark fiber pursuant to indefeasible rights-of-use agreements ("IRUs") that qualified for sales-type lease accounting and were entered into prior to June 30, 1999, were recognized at the time of delivery and acceptance of the fiber by the customer. Certain sale and long-term IRU agreements of dark fiber and capacity entered into after June 30, 1999, are required to be accounted for in the same manner as sales of real estate with property improvements or integral equipment. This accounting treatment results in the deferral of revenue for the cash that has been received and the recognition of revenue ratably over the term of the agreement (generally up to 20 years).
Termination revenue is recognized when a customer disconnects service prior to the end of the contract period and for which Level 3 had previously received consideration and for which revenue recognition was deferred. Termination revenue is also recognized when customers make termination penalty payments to Level 3 to settle contractually committed purchase amounts that the customer no longer expects to meet or when a customer and Level 3 renegotiate a contract under which Level 3 is no longer obligated to provide product or services for consideration previously received and for which revenue recognition has been deferred. Termination revenue is reported in the same manner as the original product or service provided.
Accounting practice and guidance with respect to the accounting treatment of revenue continues to evolve. Any changes in the accounting treatment could affect the manner in which the Company accounts for revenue within its communications and coal businesses.
The Company recognizes stock-based compensation expense for all share-based payment awards in accordance with Statement of Financial Accounting Standards ("SFAS") No. 123R, "Share-Based Payment" ("SFAS No. 123R"). Under the fair value recognition provisions of SFAS 123R, the Company recognizes stock-based compensation expense net of an estimated forfeiture rate, recognizing compensation cost for only those awards expected to vest over the requisite service period of the awards. Determining the appropriate fair value model and calculating the fair value of share-based payment awards require subjective assumptions, including the expected life of the share- based payment awards and stock price volatility. The Company issues outperform stock options in which the value received is based on a formula involving a multiplier related to the level by which the Company's common stock outperforms the S&P 500® Index. The Company utilizes a modified Black-Scholes model due to the additional variables required to calculate the effect of the success multiplier for its outperform stock options, including estimating the expected volatility of the S&P 500® Index. As a result of the deterioration of the Company's stock price at the end of 2008, the aggregate intrinsic value of outstanding outperform stock options was zero as of December 31, 2008.
The assumptions used in calculating the fair value of share-based payment awards represent management's best estimates, but these estimates involve inherent uncertainties and the application of management judgment. As a result, if factors change and the Company uses different assumptions, stock-based compensation expense could be materially different in the future. In addition, the Company is required to estimate the expected forfeiture rate and recognize expense only for those shares expected to vest. If actual forfeiture rates are materially different from the Company's estimate, stock-based compensation expense could be significantly different from what the Company has recorded in the current period.
Valuation of Long-Lived Assets
The Company performs an assessment of its long-lived assets, including finite-lived acquisition-related intangible assets, for impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of assets or asset groupings may not be recoverable. This review requires the identification of the lowest level of identifiable cash flows for purposes of grouping assets subject to review. The estimate of undiscounted cash flows includes long-term forecasts of revenue growth, gross margins and operating expenses. All of these items require significant judgment and assumptions. The impairment analysis of long-lived assets also requires the Company to make certain subjective assumptions and estimates regarding the expected future use of certain additional conduits and the expected future use of certain empty conduit. An impairment loss may exist when the estimated undiscounted cash flows attributable to the assets are less than their carrying amount. If an asset is deemed to be impaired, the amount of the impairment loss recognized represents the excess of the long-lived asset's carrying value as compared to its estimated fair value, based on management's assumptions and projections.
The Company conducted a long-lived asset impairment analysis in the fourth quarter of 2008 and concluded that its long-lived assets, including finite-lived acquisition-related intangible assets, were not impaired. To the extent that future changes in assumptions and estimates cause a change in estimates of future cash flows that indicate the carrying amount of the Company's long-lived assets, including finite-lived acquisition-related intangible assets, may not be recoverable, the Company may incur impairment charges in the future to write-down the carrying amount of the Company's long-lived assets, including finite-lived acquisition-related intangible assets, to their estimated fair value.
Valuation of Goodwill and Acquired Indefinite-Lived Intangible Assets
The Company performs an assessment of its goodwill for impairment annually at the end of the fourth quarter, or more frequently if the Company determines that indicators of impairment exist. The Company's impairment review process compares the fair value of each reporting unit to its carrying
value. The Company's reporting units are consistent with the reportable segments identified in Note 14 to the Consolidated Financial Statements. If the fair value of the reporting unit exceeds its carrying value, goodwill is not impaired and no further testing is performed. If the carrying value of the reporting unit exceeds its fair value, then a second step must be performed, and the implied fair value of the reporting unit's goodwill must be determined and compared to the carrying value of the reporting unit's goodwill. If the carrying value of a reporting unit's goodwill exceeds its implied fair value, then an impairment loss equal to the difference will be recorded.
The Company's fair value methodology consists of a quoted market price approach whereby the Company calculates the market capitalization of Level 3 using quoted market prices, adds an estimated control premium, and then assigns that fair value to the reporting units. The Company also performs a discounted cash flow analysis that includes estimates of revenue, costs, growth rates and an appropriate discount rate. These estimates are based on historical data, various internal estimates and management's expectations of future trends.
The Company conducted its goodwill impairment analysis at the end of the fourth quarter of 2008 and concluded that its goodwill was not impaired.
The Company also performs an assessment of its indefinite-lived acquisition-related intangible assets annually at the end of the fourth quarter, or more frequently if the Company determines that indicators of impairment exist. The Company's impairment review process compares the fair value of the indefinite-lived acquisition-related intangible assets to their respective carrying values. If the fair value of the indefinite-lived acquisition-related intangible assets exceeds their carrying values, then the indefinite-lived acquisition-related intangible assets are not impaired.
The Company's fair value methodology primarily consists of a discounted cash flow analysis that includes estimates of revenue, costs, growth rates and an appropriate discount rate and market comparable estimates. These estimates are based on historical data, various internal estimates and management's expectations of future trends.
The Company conducted its indefinite-lived acquisition-related intangible asset impairment analyses at the end of the fourth quarter of 2008 and concluded that there was no impairment. As a result of the sale of the Vyvx advertising distribution business in the second quarter of 2008, the Company also performed an impairment analysis of its indefinite-lived, Vyvx trade name and concluded that there was no impairment as of June 30, 2008.
To the extent that future changes in the Company's assumptions and estimates cause a change in the related fair value estimates that indicate the carrying amount of the Company's goodwill and indefinite-lived acquisition-related intangible assets may not be recoverable, the Company may incur impairment charges in the future to write-down the carrying amount of the Company's goodwill and indefinite-lived acquisition-related intangible assets to their estimated fair value.
Asset Retirement Obligations
The Company's asset retirement obligations consist of legal requirements to remove certain of its network infrastructure at the expiration of the underlying right-of-way ("ROW") term, restoration requirements for leased facilities and reclamation requirements in the coal mining business to remediate previously mined properties. The initial and subsequent measurement of the Company's asset retirement obligations require the Company to make significant estimates regarding the eventual costs and probability or likelihood that the Company will be required to remove certain of its network infrastructure, restore certain of its leased properties and remediate certain of its previously mined properties. In addition, the Company must estimate the periods over which these costs will be incurred and present value the total of such costs using the Company's estimate of its credit-adjusted risk-free interest rate.
The Company regularly evaluates its asset retirement obligations to determine if the amount and timing of its cash flow estimates continue to be appropriate based on current facts and circumstances.
As a result of indicators suggesting that the estimated cash flows underlying the Company's ROW asset retirement obligations were too high, the Company revised its assessment on December 31, 2008. Network infrastructure relocations indicated that the Company is not being required to physically remove its underground network infrastructure at rates consistent with the Company's previous estimates. Other internal and external information corroborated these lower rates. As a result, on December 31, 2008, the Company revised its probability assessment related to its requirement to physically remove its underground network infrastructure at the end of the underlying ROW terms, which caused a significant reduction to the related cash flows that the Company believes will be required to settle its ROW asset retirement obligations. The Company reduced its asset retirement obligation liability accordingly as of December 31, 2008.
As part of the ROW asset retirement obligation change in estimate, the Company determined that certain of its asset retirement obligations for acquired entities should have been higher at the acquisition date. As a result, the Company increased goodwill by approximately $15 million as of December 31, 2008.
The Company also determined that its estimates of restoration costs for its leased facility asset retirement obligations were too high based on current costs to restore. As a result, on December 31, 2008, the Company reduced its estimates of the cash flows that it believes will be required to settle its leased facility asset retirement obligations at the end of the respective lease terms, which resulted in a reduction to the Company's asset retirement obligation liability.
In the fourth quarter of 2008, the Company was awarded a long-term coal contract, which will extend the life of one of the Company's coal mining operations. As a result of the increase in the estimated life of one of the Company's coal mining operations, the Company revised the timing of its cash flows to remediate the mining site causing a reduction in its asset retirement obligation liability in the fourth quarter of 2008.
As a result of the aforementioned revisions in the estimated amount and timing of cash flows for asset retirement obligations, the Company reduced its asset retirement obligation liability by $103 million with an offsetting reduction to property, plant and equipment of $21 million, general and administrative expenses of $86 million, depreciation and amortization of $11 million and an increase to goodwill of $15 million. The Company reduced property, plant and equipment to the extent of the carrying amount of the related long-lived asset initially recorded when the asset retirement obligation liability was established. The remaining amount of the reduction to the asset retirement obligation was recorded as a reduction to depreciation expense, to the extent of historical depreciation of the related long-lived asset, and selling, general and administrative expense.
Recently Issued Accounting Pronouncements
In September 2006, the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") issued SFAS No. 157, "Fair Value Measurements" ("SFAS No. 157"), which defines fair value, establishes a framework for measuring fair value in generally accepted accounting principles, and expands disclosures about fair value measurements. SFAS No. 157 does not require any new fair value measurements, but provides guidance on how to measure fair value by providing a fair value hierarchy used to classify the source of the information. This statement was effective for financial assets and liabilities, as well as for non-financial assets and liabilities that are recognized or disclosed at fair value on a recurring basis for fiscal years beginning after November 15, 2007 and interim periods within that fiscal year. FASB Staff Position ("FSP") FAS 157-2, "Effective Date of FASB Statement No. 157" ("FSP 157-2") defers the effective date of SFAS No. 157 to fiscal years beginning after November 15, 2008, and interim periods within those fiscal years, for non-financial assets and liabilities that are not recognized or disclosed at fair value on a recurring basis. SFAS No. 157 did not have a material effect on the Company's
consolidated results of operations or financial condition in 2008. The Company does not expect the adoption of the remaining portions of SFAS No. 157 to have a material effect on the Company's consolidated results of operations and financial position.
In December 2007, the FASB issued SFAS No. 141 (Revised 2007), "Business Combinations" ("SFAS No. 141R"), which replaces SFAS No. 141, "Business Combinations" ("SFAS No. 141"). SFAS No 141R retains the underlying concepts of SFAS No. 141 in that an entity is required to recognize the assets acquired and liabilities assumed at their fair value on the acquisition date. SFAS No. 141R will change the accounting treatment for certain specific acquisition related items to require: (1) expensing acquisition related costs as incurred; (2) expensing changes in deferred tax asset valuation allowances and income tax uncertainties after the acquisition date; (3) valuing noncontrolling interests at fair value at the acquisition date; (4) generally expensing restructuring costs associated with an acquired business; (5) capitalizing in-process research and development assets acquired; and (6) measuring acquirer shares issued in consideration for a business combination at fair value on the acquisition date opposed to the announcement date. SFAS No. 141R also includes a substantial number of new disclosure requirements. SFAS No. 141R is to be applied prospectively to business combinations for which the acquisition date is on or after January 1, 2009. The effect of adopting SFAS No. 141R on the Company's consolidated results of operations and financial condition will be largely dependent on the size and nature of business combinations completed after December 31, 2008.
In December 2007, the FASB issued SFAS No. 160, "Noncontrolling Interests in Consolidated Financial Statements" ("SFAS No. 160"). SFAS No. 160 requires noncontrolling interests, previously referred to as minority interests, to be treated as a separate component of equity, not as a liability or other item outside of permanent equity and applies to the accounting for noncontrolling interests and transactions with noncontrolling interest holders in consolidated financial statements. SFAS 160 also establishes disclosure requirements that clearly identify and distinguish between the interests of the parent and the interests of the noncontrolling owners. This statement is effective for the Company beginning January 1, 2009. The Company does not currently expect the adoption of SFAS No. 160 to have a material effect on its consolidated results of operations and financial condition.
In March 2008, the FASB issued Statement No. 161, "Disclosures about Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities an amendment of FASB Statement No. 133" ("SFAS No. 161"). SFAS 161 applies to all derivative instruments and related hedged items accounted for under SFAS No. 133, "Accounting for Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities" ("SFAS No. 133"). SFAS No. 161 requires entities to provide greater transparency about how and why an entity uses derivative instruments, how derivative instruments and related hedged items are accounted for under SFAS No. 133 and its related interpretations, and how derivative instruments and related hedged items affect an entity's financial position, results of operations and cash flows. This statement is effective for the Company beginning January 1, 2009. The Company does not expect the adoption of SFAS No. 161 to have a material effect on its consolidated results of operations and financial condition.
On May 9, 2008, the FASB issued FSP APB 14-1, "Accounting for Convertible Debt Instruments That May Be Settled in Cash Upon Conversion (Including Partial Cash Settlement)" ("FSP APB 14-1"). FSP APB 14-1 requires issuers of a certain type of convertible debt to separately account for the debt and equity components of the convertible debt in a way that reflects the issuer's borrowing rate at the date of issuance for similar debt instruments without the conversion feature. FSP APB 14-1 applies to certain of the Company's convertible debt. FSP APB 14-1 is effective for the Company beginning on January 1, 2009 and will be applied retrospectively to all quarterly and annual periods that will be presented in the Company's consolidated financial statements. Early adoption of FSP APB 14-1 is not permitted. The adoption of FSP APB 14-1 is expected to significantly increase the Company's non-cash interest expense and reduce basic and diluted earnings (loss) per share.
In November 2008, the FASB ratified EITF Issue No. 08-7, "Accounting for Defensive Intangible Assets," ("EITF 08-7"). EITF 08-7 applies to defensive intangible assets, which are acquired intangible
assets that the acquirer does not intend to actively use but intends to hold to prevent its competitors from obtaining access to them. As these assets are separately identifiable, EITF 08-7 requires an acquiring entity to account for defensive intangible assets as a separate unit of accounting. Defensive intangible assets must be recognized at fair value in accordance with SFAS No. 141R and SFAS No. 157. EITF 08-7 is effective for defensive intangible assets acquired in fiscal years beginning on or after December 15, 2008 and will be adopted by the Company beginning on January 1, 2009. The effect of adopting EITF 08-7 on the Company's consolidated results of operations and financial condition will be largely dependent on the size and nature of business combinations completed after December 31, 2008.
Results of Operations 2008 vs. 2007
Communications revenue consists of:
Communications revenue attributable to each of these services is as follows:
Communications Revenue increased 1% in 2008 compared to 2007. Contributing to this increase in Communications revenue was an increase in Core Communications Services revenue in 2008 compared to 2007. This increase in Core Communications Services revenue is the result of a combination of growth in the Company's Core Network Services and Wholesale Voice Services.
The Company experienced growth across several services within Core Network Services in 2008 compared to 2007, including infrastructure, transport, colocation, data, IP, including CDN services, and Vyvx broadcast services. The Company continues to experience strong demand for infrastructure and transport services for complex nationwide solutions and colocation capacity in large markets. Vyvx broadcast revenue increased primarily as a result of the proliferation of high definition sports, news and entertainment programming. Partially offsetting the increase in Core Network Services revenue was lower Vyvx advertising distribution revenue. On June 5, 2008, the Company completed the sale of the Vyvx advertising distribution business and therefore only recorded Vyvx advertising distribution revenue in 2008 from January 1, 2008 through June 5, 2008. Revenue attributable to the Vyvx advertising distribution business was $15 million in 2008 compared to $36 million in 2007.
The increase in Wholesale Voice Services revenue is attributable to an increase in voice termination and toll free voice services. The growth in voice termination revenue is primarily attributable to an increase in demand from wireless carrier customers. Toll free revenue increased primarily due to higher traffic attributable to conferencing provider customers. The Company continues to concentrate its sales efforts on maintaining incremental gross margins in the 30% range for these services. The Company expects to experience some volatility in revenue as a result of this strategy.
Other Communications Revenue declined to $366 million in 2008 from $577 million in 2007. The decrease is primarily the result of a decline in managed modem revenue as a result of the continued migration from narrow band dial-up services to higher speed broadband services by end user customers, especially in large metropolitan areas. The Company expects managed modem revenue to continue to decline in the future due to an increase in the number of subscribers migrating to broadband services and potential pricing concessions in 2009 as contracts are renewed.
Reciprocal compensation revenue from managed modem services also declined in 2008 compared to 2007 as a result of the continuing decline in demand for managed modem services. The Company has historically earned the majority of its reciprocal compensation revenue from managed modem services, although the Company continues to generate a portion of its reciprocal compensation revenue from voice services, which is reported within Core Network Services revenue. To the extent the Company is unable to sign new interconnection agreements or signs new agreements containing lower rates, or there is a significant decline in the Company's managed modem dial-up business, or FCC or state regulations change such that carriers are not required to compensate other carriers for terminating ISP-bound traffic, reciprocal compensation revenue may decline significantly over time.
Also contributing to the decrease in Other Communications revenue was lower SBC Contract Services revenue as a result of the migration of the SBC traffic to the AT&T network and the satisfaction by SBC of its gross margin commitment under the SBC Master Services Agreement in 2008. During the second quarter of 2008, the gross margin commitment on the SBC Master Services Agreement was satisfied; however AT&T, Inc. ("AT&T"), which merged with SBC in 2005, continues to purchase services from Level 3 under the SBC Master Services Agreement as it continues to migrate the services provided under the agreement to its own network facilities. The SBC Master Services Agreement was an agreement between SBC Services Inc. and WilTel and was obtained in the WilTel acquisition. WilTel and SBC amended their agreement in June 2005 to run through 2009. The Company recognized $201 million and $303 million of revenue under the SBC Contract Services Agreement during 2008 and 2007, respectively. The agreement provided a gross margin purchase commitment of $335 million from December 2005 through the end of 2007 and $75 million from January 2008 through the end of 2009 and stipulated that originating and terminating access charges paid to local phone companies get passed through to SBC in accordance with a formula that approximates costs and do not count against the gross margin purchase commitment. SBC fully satisfied the $335 million gross margin purchase commitment during the third quarter of 2007. As a result of satisfying the initial gross margin purchase commitment, SBC's purchases of services that exceeded the original $335 million gross margin purchase commitment counted toward the $75 million gross margin purchase commitment for the period from January 2008 through the end of 2009. SBC satisfied $39 million of the $75 million gross margin purchase commitment in 2007 with the remaining $36 million satisfied in 2008.
Additionally, the SBC Contract Services Agreement provided for the payment of $50 million by SBC if certain performance criteria were met by Level 3. The performance-based incentive provisions of the agreement ended on December 31, 2007. The Company met the required performance criteria and recorded annual revenue of $25 million in both 2006 and 2007 under the agreement.
Coal mining revenue increased to $75 million in 2008 from $70 million in 2007, primarily as a result of a long-term supply contract that enabled a customer to buyout future coal purchase commitments with the Company. The Company does not have any further obligations with respect to future coal commitments under the contract, and therefore recognized the transaction as revenue in 2008. Partially offsetting this increase were lower volumes of coal sold in 2008 compared to 2007.
Cost of Revenue for the communications business includes leased capacity, right-of-way costs, access charges, satellite transponder lease costs, and other third party costs directly attributable to the network, but excludes depreciation and amortization and related impairment expenses. Prior to the sale of the Vyvx advertising distribution business, the Company included in communications cost of revenue package delivery costs and the blank tape media costs associated with this business.
Cost of revenue for the communications business, as a percentage of communications revenue, was 41% in 2008 compared to 42% in 2007. This decrease is primarily attributable to the synergies derived from acquisitions. During 2007 and the first part of 2008, the Company was able to eliminate some of the costs associated with duplicate circuits serving the same markets. Also contributing to the decrease was the continued reduction in Other Communications Services revenue, in particular, SBC Contract Services revenue. The gross margins for SBC Contract Services revenue are lower than the gross margins for Core Communications Services revenue and managed modem and reciprocal compensation from managed modem revenue. Partially offsetting this decrease were increases in Wholesale Voice Services revenue as a percentage of total communications revenue and lower managed modem revenue. The incremental gross margins for Wholesale Voice Services revenue are in the 30% range versus 80% for Core Network Services revenue and the gross margin for managed modem revenue is generally higher than for Core Network Services revenue.
Coal mining cost of revenue approximated 92% of coal mining revenue in 2008 and 91% in 2007. The increase in coal mining cost of revenue as a percentage of coal mining revenue in 2008 is the
result of an increase in energy costs to mine the coal partially offset by the buyout by a coal customer of future coal purchase commitments resulting in the recognition of revenue with no associated costs in 2008.
Depreciation and Amortization expense decreased 1% to $931 million in 2008 from $942 million in 2007. The decrease is primarily attributable to the $11 million reduction to depreciation and amortization expense resulting from the Company revising its estimates of its asset retirement obligations liability in the fourth quarter of 2008. Also contributing to the decrease was reduced amortization expense on intangible assets due to the disposal of $22 million of carrying value of amortizable intangible assets in the Vyvx advertising distribution sale and certain of the Company's amortizable intangible assets becoming fully amortized in early 2008. These decreases in depreciation and amortization were partially offset by higher accelerated depreciation in 2008 on network infrastructure assets that were abandoned as a result of the Company relocating small scale portions of its network and reductions in the useful lives of certain of the Company's amortizable intangible assets in the second quarter of 2007.
The Company expects depreciation and amortization expense of between $900 million to $940 million in 2009 based on the Company's current expectations of the timing and amounts of capital expenditures in 2009.
Selling, General and Administrative expenses include salaries, wages and related benefits (including non-cash, stock based compensation expenses), property taxes, travel, insurance, rent, contract maintenance, advertising, accretion expense on asset retirement obligations and other administrative expenses. Selling, general and administrative expenses also include certain network related expenses such as network facility rent, utilities and maintenance costs.
Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased 13% to $1.5 billion in 2008 compared to $1.7 billion in 2007. The decrease is primarily attributable to the $86 million reduction to selling, general and administrative expenses resulting from the Company revising its estimates of its asset retirement obligations liability in the fourth quarter of 2008. Also contributing to the decrease were synergies that have been achieved as a result of acquisition integration efforts and the Company's focus on reducing operating expenses. Specifically, decreases in employee compensation and related costs, professional fees and vendor services, and facilities-based expenses all contributed to the decrease in selling, general and administrative expenses in 2008 compared to 2007.
Included in selling, general and administrative expenses in 2008 and 2007 were $78 million and $122 million, respectively, of non-cash, stock-based compensation expenses related to grants of outperform stock options and restricted stock units and restricted stock shares. The decrease in non-cash, stock-based compensation expense in 2008 compared to 2007, is primarily due to the Company not making its annual discretionary grant to its 401(k) plan. The Company made a discretionary contribution to the 401(k) plan in Level 3 common stock for the year ended December 31, 2007 of $16 million. Non-cash, stock-based compensation also decreased in 2008 compared to 2007 for those employees eligible for accelerated vesting of stock awards at retirement and as a result of a lower weighted-average fair value of restricted stock awards granted in 2008 compared to 2007. See Note 12 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for more details.
The Company expects to continue its focus on reducing selling, general and administrative expenses in 2009.
Restructuring and Impairment Charges increased to $25 million in 2008 from $12 million in 2007 as a result of an increase in costs associated with employee terminations. See Note 8 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for more details.
The Company may experience further restructuring charges in 2009 in connection with the continued integration of acquired businesses as a result of the deployment of improved business
processes and systems and the possible need to adjust its cost structure if revenue performance is not satisfactory due to negative effects of the current economy or other reasons, which could result in additional headcount reductions.
Adjusted EBITDA, as defined by the Company, is net income (loss) from the consolidated statements of operations before (1) income taxes, (2) total other income (expense), (3) non-cash impairment charges included within restructuring and impairment charges, (4) depreciation and amortization and (5) non-cash stock compensation expense included within selling, general and administrative expenses in the consolidated statements of operations.
Adjusted EBITDA is not a measurement under GAAP and may not be used in the same way by other companies. Management believes that Adjusted EBITDA is an important part of the Company's internal reporting and is a key measure used by management to evaluate profitability and operating performance of the Company and to make resource allocation decisions. Management believes such measurement is especially important in a capital-intensive industry such as telecommunications. Management also uses Adjusted EBITDA to compare the Company's performance to that of its competitors and to eliminate certain non-cash and non-operating items in order to consistently measure from period to period its ability to fund capital expenditures, fund growth, service debt and determine bonuses.
Adjusted EBITDA excludes non-cash impairment charges and non-cash stock compensation expense because of the non-cash nature of these items. Adjusted EBITDA also excludes interest income, interest expense, income taxes and gain (loss) on extinguishment of debt because these items are associated with the Company's capitalization and tax structures. Adjusted EBITDA also excludes depreciation and amortization expense because these non-cash expenses reflect the effect of capital investments which management believes should be evaluated through cash flow measures. Adjusted EBITDA excludes the gain on sale of business groups and net other income (expense) because these items are not related to the primary operations of the Company.
There are limitations to using non-GAAP financial measures, including the difficulty associated with comparing companies that use similar performance measures whose calculations may differ from the Company's calculations. Additionally, this financial measure does not include certain significant items such as interest income, interest expense, income taxes, depreciation and amortization, non-cash impairment charges, non-cash stock compensation expense, gain (loss) on early extinguishment of debt, the gain on sale of business groups and net other income (expense). Adjusted EBITDA should not be considered a substitute for other measures of financial performance reported in accordance with GAAP.
Note 14 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements provides a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA for each of the Company's reportable operating segments.
Adjusted EBITDA for the communications business was $1.0 billion in 2008 compared to $823 million in 2007. The increase in Adjusted EBITDA for the communications business is primarily attributable to the growth in the Company's Core Communications Services revenue and the benefits of continued operating expense reductions from integration activities, partially offset by declines in Other Communications Services revenue. Also contributing to the increase in Adjusted EBITDA for the communications business in 2008 was the $86 million reduction to selling, general and administrative expenses resulting from the Company revising its estimates of the amounts of its asset retirement obligations liability in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Interest Income decreased to $15 million in 2008 from $54 million in 2007. The decrease in interest income was primarily due to a decrease in the Company's average invested cash balances and a decrease in the average returns on the portfolio. The Company's average return on its portfolio decreased to 2.0% in 2008 compared to 4.8% in 2007. The average portfolio balance decreased to $735 million in 2008 compared to $1.0 billion in 2007.
The Company invests its funds primarily in government and government agency securities, money market funds and commercial paper depending on liquidity requirements. The Company's investment strategy generally provides lower yields on the funds than would be obtained on alternative investments, but reduces the risk to principal in the short term prior to these funds being used in the Company's business.
Interest Expense decreased 7% to $534 million in 2008 from $577 million in 2007. Interest expense decreased primarily as a result of a decrease in interest rates on the Company's unhedged variable rate debt. Interest rates on the Company's unhedged variable rate debt approximated 6% in 2008 and 8% in 2007. Interest expense also decreased as a result of the debt for equity exchanges, debt redemptions, debt repurchases and debt repayment transactions that were completed by the Company in 2007 and 2008. See Note 11 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for more details.
Gain on Sale of Business Groups totaled $99 million in 2008 compared to zero 2007. On June 5, 2008, Level 3 completed the sale of its Vyvx advertising distribution business to DG FastChannel, Inc. and recognized a gain on the sale of $96 million in the second quarter of 2008. In addition, in the fourth quarter of 2008 Level 3 completed the sale of certain of its smaller long distance voice customers and recognized a gain on the sale of approximately $3 million. See Note 2 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for more details.
Gain (Loss) on Extinguishment of Debt was a gain of $81 million in 2008 compared a loss of $427 million in 2007. The 2008 gain on extinguishment of debt consisted of a gain of $125 million as a result of certain debt repurchases prior to maturity, partially offset by a $44 million loss attributable to induced debt conversion expenses related to the exchange of certain of the Company's convertible debt securities. The 2007 loss on extinguishment of debt consisted of a loss of $427 million as a result of the refinancing of the Company's senior secured credit agreement and certain debt exchanges, redemptions and repurchases prior to maturity. See Note 11 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for more details.
The Company may enter into additional transactions in the future to repurchase or exchange existing debt that may result in gains or losses on the extinguishment of debt.
Other, net was $24 million in 2008 and $55 million in 2007. Other, net is primarily comprised of gains and losses on the sale of non-operating assets, marketable securities, realized foreign currency gains and losses and other income.
Income Tax Benefit (Expense) was a $6 million expense in 2008 and was a $22 million benefit in 2007. The income tax expense for 2008 was primarily the result of state income taxes.
The Company incurs income tax expense attributable to income in various Level 3 subsidiaries, including the coal business, that are required to file state or foreign income tax returns on a separate legal entity basis. The Company also recognizes accrued interest and penalties in income tax expense related to uncertain tax benefits that have not been recognized in the Company's tax returns.
As of December 31, 2008, the Company had net operating loss carry forwards of approximately $4.7 billion for federal income tax purposes. Under the rules prescribed by U.S. Internal Revenue Code ("IRC") Section 382 and applicable regulations, if certain transactions occur with respect to an entity's capital stock that result in a cumulative ownership shift of more than 50 percentage points by 5-percent stockholders over a testing period, annual limitations are imposed with respect to the entity's ability to utilize its net operating loss carry forwards and certain current deductions against any taxable income the entity achieves in future periods. The Company had entered into transactions over the testing period resulting in significant cumulative shifts in the ownership of its capital stock which alone would not have resulted in an ownership change under IRC Section 382. However, when the Company's actions are coupled with the trading activity in the Company's common stock throughout 2008 by third-party market participants, the Company believes that in 2008 the Company experienced a cumulative
ownership change of more than 50 percentage points by 5-percent stockholders during the applicable testing period. Prior to the ownership change, the Company had net operating loss carry forwards of $9.7 billion. The Company believes that the limitation of its net operating loss carry forwards will not have a near term effect on its consolidated results of operations and financial position. The Company also believes that the limitation of its net operating loss carry forwards has an immaterial effect on the current intrinsic value of the Company's business taken as a whole. Additional transactions could cause the Company to incur a subsequent 50 percentage point ownership change by 5-percent stockholders and, if the Company triggers the above-noted IRC imposed limitations, could further limit it from fully utilizing the remaining net operating loss carry forwards and certain current deductions to reduce income taxes.
Results of Operations 2007 vs. 2006
Communications revenue consists of the following:
The 84% increase in Core Communications Services revenue for 2007 compared to 2006 is due to growth in the Company's revenue from existing services, as well as revenue from the Progress Telecom, ICG Communications, TelCove, Looking Glass, Broadwing, CDN Business and Servecast acquisitions. The Company purchased Progress Telecom in March 2006, ICG Communications in May 2006, TelCove in July 2006 and Looking Glass in August 2006. The Company purchased Broadwing and the CDN Business in January 2007 and Servecast in July 2007. From a financial reporting perspective, the Company integrated into the Level 3 business the operations of WilTel, Progress Telecom, ICG Communications, TelCove and Looking Glass in 2006, and Broadwing and the CDN Business in the first half of 2007. As a result, separate revenue information by revenue category for these acquired companies is no longer reported other than for the SBC Contract Services revenue acquired from WilTel.
As described earlier, the growth in Core Communications Services revenue was lower than expected during the second, third and fourth quarters of 2007 as a result of an increase in service activation times and challenges in service management processes. Service activation times increased during the second and third quarters of 2007 as a result of the following issues.
Transport and infrastructure revenue increased 69% for 2007 compared to 2006. The increase was the result of growth in existing services and the recognition of a full year of revenue in 2007 for Progress Telecom, ICG Communications, TelCove and Looking Glass acquisitions completed in 2006, as well as the revenue from the Broadwing acquisition completed in January 2007. Increased demand in the cable and wireless market segments for complex nationwide solutions and colocation capacity in large markets contributed to the revenue growth in existing services in 2007 as compared to 2006.
IP and data revenue increased 94% for 2007 compared to 2006. The increase was the result of growth in existing services and the recognition of a full year of revenue in 2007 for Progress Telecom, ICG Communications, TelCove and Looking Glass acquisitions completed in 2006, as well as a full year of revenue from the Broadwing acquisition completed in early January 2007. IP and data revenue also increased in 2007 as a result of the CDN Business acquisition completed in January 2007 and the Servecast acquisition completed in July 2007. IP and data revenue also increased due to traffic growth
in North America from new and existing customers that exceeded the rate of price compression experienced in 2007. During the second quarter of 2007, the Company also implemented new, reduced pricing under the terms of a contract renewal for its largest IP and data customer which partially offset the overall growth of IP and data revenue in the last half of 2007. Continued revenue growth in the Company's VPN service also contributed to the increase in IP and data revenue during 2007.
Level 3's voice revenue increased 121% for 2007 compared to 2006. The increase is primarily attributable to the operations acquired in the TelCove and Broadwing acquisitions, particularly domestic and international voice termination services, and growth in Level 3's existing wholesale and VoIP-related services including voice termination, local inbound, enhanced local and toll free services.
Level 3 Vyvx revenue increased 15% for 2007 compared to 2006. The increase was a result of an increase in advertising distribution revenue and the continued demand for high-definition broadcast services in sports, news and entertainment.
Managed modem revenue declined 45% to $158 million for 2007 compared to 2006 as a result of the continued migration from narrow band dial-up services to higher speed broadband services by end user customers, especially in large metropolitan areas. This change has resulted in a decline in the demand for managed modem ports.
Reciprocal compensation revenue from managed modem services declined 8% to $94 million for 2007 compared to 2006 as a result of the continuing decline in demand for managed modem services. As a result of the Company's acquisitions of WilTel, TelCove and Broadwing, the Company has started to generate a portion of its reciprocal compensation revenue from voice services. For the full year ending December 31, 2007, the Company recognized $26 million of reciprocal compensation revenue earned from voice services, which are included in Core Communications Services revenue.
Managed IP services revenue declined 61% to $22 million for 2007 compared to 2006. As discussed earlier, to date the Company has not invested in this service and the decline in revenue is attributable to the disconnection of service by existing customers. The Company's legacy managed IP services business consists primarily of a business that was acquired in 2003.
SBC Contract Services revenue decreased 66% to $303 million for 2007 compared to 2006 as expected due to the migration of the SBC traffic to the AT&T network. The SBC Contract Services agreement was obtained in December 2005 as part of the WilTel acquisition. Under the terms of the agreement, SBC has gross margin purchase commitments through 2009. SBC fully satisfied the $335 million gross margin purchase commitment for the period from December 2005 through December 2007 during the third quarter of 2007. As a result of satisfying the initial gross margin purchase commitment, SBC's purchases of services that exceed the original $335 million gross margin purchase commitment counted toward the $75 million gross margin purchase commitment for the period from January 2008 through the end of 2009. As of December 31, 2007, SBC had satisfied $39 million of the $75 million gross margin purchase commitment.
Coal mining revenue increased 4% to $70 million in 2007 compared to 2006. The increase was attributable to an increase in the tons of coal sold from the Black Butte mine, partially offset by a decrease in the tons of coal sold from the Decker mine. Overall, the price per ton for coal from both mines was up slightly in 2007 compared to 2006.
Cost of Revenue for the communications business, as a percentage of revenue, for 2007 and 2006 was 42% and 44%, respectively. The decrease in the 2007 cost of revenue, as a percentage of revenue, was primarily attributable to the continued decrease in SBC Contract Services revenue from 2006 to 2007. The margins for SBC Contract Services revenue are lower than the margins earned on other components included in Core and Other Communications Services revenue. Also contributing to the decrease in 2007 cost of revenue, as a percentage of revenue, were cost of revenue synergy savings that have been achieved as a result of acquisition integration efforts. The Company believes that cost of revenue synergy savings of $80 million on an annualized basis have been achieved through integration efforts in 2007.
Coal mining cost of revenue, as a percentage of revenue, increased to 91% for 2007 compared to 85% in 2006. The increase in cost of revenue, as a percentage of revenue, in 2007 as compared to 2006 was due to planned equipment maintenance costs at one mine and higher costs related to overburden removal at another mine.
Depreciation and Amortization expense increased 29% to $942 million for 2007 compared to 2006. The increase is primarily attributable to the increased depreciation and amortization expense recognized on communications tangible and intangible assets that were acquired through acquisitions completed in 2006 and 2007, as well as depreciation expense on the approximately $241 million increase in capital expenditures for 2007 compared to 2006.
In addition, during the second quarter of 2007, the Company reviewed and adjusted the estimated useful lives used for amortization of customer-related intangible assets for the ICG Communications, TelCove and Looking Glass acquisitions effective June 1, 2007. This resulted in increased amortization expense of $9 million during the year ended December 31, 2007.
During the fourth quarter of 2007, the Company finalized the purchase price allocation for the Broadwing acquisition which resulted in reduced amortization expense related to intangible assets for the Broadwing acquisition from the date of acquisition totaling approximately $18 million, as compared to the total amortization expense that would have been recognized for 2007 prior to the change in the valuation of the intangible assets.
The increase in depreciation expense for 2007 was partially offset by a $44 million decrease in depreciation expense compared to the same period in 2006 attributable to the increase in estimated useful lives for network fiber and IP and transmission equipment implemented in the second and third quarters of 2006.
Selling, General and Administrative expenses increased 37% to $1.7 billion in 2007 compared to 2006. This increase is primarily attributable to the expenses associated with the operations acquired in the Progress Telecom, ICG Communications, TelCove and Looking Glass transactions during 2006; the Broadwing and CDN Business transactions in January 2007; and the Servecast transaction in July 2007. Specifically, increases in compensation, bonus and employee related costs, network related costs and facility-based expenses all contributed to the increase in selling, general and administrative expenses in 2007. Offsetting the increases discussed above were selling, general and administrative expense synergy savings that have been achieved as a result of acquisition integration efforts. As of the end of 2007, the Company believes that it has achieved annualized run rate synergies in selling, general and administrative expenses totaling approximately $105 million. Also offsetting the increase in selling, general and administrative expenses in 2007 compared to 2006 was a reduction in incentive-based compensation expense of $32 million as a result of lower than expected financial performance in 2007.
Included in selling, general and administrative expenses for 2007 and 2006 were $122 million and $84 million, respectively, of non-cash stock-based compensation expense related to grants of outperform stock options and restricted stock units and restricted stock shares. The increase in non-cash compensation expense in 2007 compared to 2006, is due to an increase in the number of restricted stock units and restricted stock shares issued to employees as a result of an increase in the number of employees eligible in 2007 compared to 2006, an increase in the 401(k) employee match and annual discretionary grant made to the 401(k) plan and an increase in non-cash compensation expense for those employees eligible for accelerated vesting of stock awards at retirement; with the overall increase partially offset by a reduction in the number of outperform stock options and units issued in 2007 compared to 2006. The number of employees eligible to participate in the Company's stock-based long-term incentive plan increased significantly from 2006 to 2007 as a result of the employees of acquired companies becoming eligible to participate in the long-term incentive plan at the beginning of 2007.
In 2007, the Company recognized additional non-cash stock-based compensation expense totaling approximately $11 million for those employees eligible for accelerated vesting of stock awards at retirement. The Company provides accelerated vesting of stock awards at the date an employee retires if the employee meets certain age and years of service requirements and certain other requirements. Under SFAS No. 123R, the fair value of stock-based employee awards are expensed over the minimum service period, which is from the grant date to the earliest vesting date. Therefore, the Company is required to fully expense at the grant date the value of stock awards made to those employees that already meet both the age and years of service requirements for accelerated vesting at retirement at the date of grant. If the employee will meet the age and years of service requirements for accelerated vesting at retirement sooner than the normal vesting period for the stock awards, then the Company is required to use that shorter period for recognition of the non-cash compensation expense associated with the grant.
Included in the 2006 non-cash compensation expense of $84 million was $6 million related to the revaluation of the October 2005 and January 2006 grants using May 15, 2006 as the revised grant date, as there had not been stockholder approval of those awards prior to that date, which was deemed necessary for determination of the grant date for those awards under SFAS No. 123R.
Restructuring and Non-Cash Impairment Charges declined 8% to $12 million in 2007 compared to 2006. The Company recognized severance charges of $11 million in 2007 and $5 million in 2006 related to workforce reductions in the communications business in North America. The workforce reductions completed in 2007 were primarily related to the integration of companies acquired by Level 3 in 2006 and January 2007. The Company recognized non-cash impairment charges of $1 million and $8 million in 2007 and 2006, respectively. The non-cash impairment charge of $1 million in 2007 and $4 million of the 2006 charge were primarily related to previously capitalized costs of certain information technology development projects no longer used by the Company. The costs incurred for these projects, including capitalized labor, were impaired as the Company did not expect to utilize the assets in the future. The remaining $4 million non-cash impairment charge in 2006 was related to excess land of the communications business deemed available for sale in Germany. This charge resulted from the difference between the recorded carrying value and the estimated market value of the land. During the third quarter of 2007, the Company reclassified the excess land in Germany to property, plant and equipment due to the fact the land had not been sold and was no longer being actively marketed for sale.
Adjusted EBITDA for the communications business was $823 million and $677 million in 2007 and 2006, respectively. The increase was primarily attributable to the Adjusted EBITDA contribution from the operations acquired in the Progress Telecom, ICG Communications, TelCove, Looking Glass, Broadwing, CDN Business and Servecast acquisitions, growth in the Company's Core Communications Services revenue and the benefits of cost of revenue and operating expense synergies realized in 2007 from integration activities, partially offset by declines in other communications services revenue, SBC Contract Services revenue and costs of integration incurred during 2007 as compared to 2006.
Adjusted EBITDA for the coal mining business decreased to $5 million in 2007 from $8 million in 2006. The decrease is primarily attributable to an increase in the amount of coal sold from the Black Butte mine which has higher stripping ratios that result in higher overall costs and a planned increase in maintenance costs for mining equipment in 2007.
Interest Income decreased 16% to $54 million in 2007 compared to 2006. The decrease in interest income was primarily due to a decrease in the average invested balance partially offset by an increase in the average return on the portfolio. The Company's average return on its portfolio increased to 4.8% in 2007 compared to 4.3% in 2006. The average portfolio balance decreased to $1.0 billion in 2007 compared to $1.5 billion in 2006.
Interest Expense decreased 11% to $577 million in 2007 compared to 2006. Interest expense decreased primarily as a result of the debt for equity exchanges, debt redemptions and debt repurchases that were completed by the Company in the first quarter of 2007 and the debt repurchased in 2006. The decrease in interest expense was partially offset by the 2006 and 2007 debt issuances. See Note 11 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for more details.
Loss on Extinguishment of Debt was $427 million in 2007 compared to $83 million in 2006. The 2007 loss on extinguishment of debt consisted of a loss of $427 million as a result of the refinancing of its senior secured credit agreement and certain debt exchanges, redemptions and repurchases prior to maturity. The 2006 loss on extinguishment of debt consisted of a $54 million loss from the repurchase of certain debt and a $55 million loss on the amendment and restatement of Level 3 Financing's Senior Secured Term Loan due 2011, partially offset by a $27 million gain realized on a debt exchange.
Other, net increased 189% to $55 million in 2007 compared to $19 million in 2006. Other, net is primarily comprised of gains and losses on the sale of marketable securities and non-operating assets, realized foreign currency gains and losses and other income. The increase in 2007 compared to 2006 is primarily due to a gain of $37 million recognized in the fourth quarter of 2007 on the sale of 80% of the Company's holdings of Infinera common stock.
Income Tax Benefit (Expense) was a $22 million benefit in 2007 and was a $2 million expense in 2006. The income tax benefit for 2007 was primarily the result of reversing $23 million of the valuation allowance against the Company's deferred tax asset for certain state NOLs. These state tax NOLs were converted to a state tax credit carry forward associated with a change in the state tax law that replaced the tax on net income with a tax on gross margin. The Company now expects it will be able to use this state tax credit carry forward against current and future state taxable gross margin.
Income from Discontinued Operations in 2006 of $46 million was related to the discontinued operations of the Company's Information Services segment. The Company sold Software Spectrum, Inc. ("Software Spectrum") to Insight Enterprises, Inc. ("Insight") in September 2006. There were no gains or losses from discontinued operations recognized in 2007. Software Spectrum, Inc.'s results of operations resulted in income from discontinued operations of $13 million in 2006. In addition, Level 3 recognized a gain on the sale of Software Spectrum to Insight in 2006 of $33 million.
Financial ConditionDecember 31, 2008
Cash flows provided by (used in) operating activities, investing activities and financing activities for the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2007, respectively are summarized as follows:
Cash provided by operating activities increased by $182 million in 2008 compared to 2007. The increase in cash provided by operating activities was primarily due to an increase in Adjusted EBITDA, favorable changes in working capital items and lower interest payments. The favorable change in
working capital items is primarily due to the changes in accounts payable and other current liabilities, partially offset by changes in accounts receivable, other current assets and deferred revenue.
Cash used in investing activities decreased by $640 million in 2008 compared to 2007. Cash used for acquisitions totaled $670 million, net of cash acquired, in 2007 as a result of the acquisitions of Broadwing, Servecast and the CDN business. The Company did not complete any acquisitions in 2008. In addition, the Company received net proceeds from the sale of its Vyvx advertising distribution business and the sale of certain of its smaller long distance voice customers of $124 million in 2008. The Company also reduced its capital expenditures by $184 million in 2008 compared to 2007, primarily as a result of a reduction in integration-related capital expenditures and more efficiently managing capital expenditure requirements. Partially offsetting these favorable changes in 2008 was cash received in 2007 of $333 million from the sale and maturity of marketable securities compared to $4 million in 2008, and an increase in restricted cash.
Cash used in financing activities decreased $209 million in 2008 compared to 2007. In 2008, cash flows from financing activities include $400 million of proceeds from the issuance of the 15% Convertible Senior Notes. The Company used the proceeds from this offering to repurchase portions of its 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2009 and 2010 and 2.875% Convertible Senior Notes due 2010 for approximately $336 million. In addition, the Company repaid the final amounts due under the 11% Senior Notes due 2008 and 10.75% Senior Euro Notes due 2008 of approximately $26 million, repurchased a portion of its 6% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2009 and 2010 for $68 million, and made capital lease and commercial mortgage payments of approximately $6 million using cash on hand.
In 2007, cash flows from financing activities include approximately $2.4 billion of net proceeds from the issuance of the Floating Rate Senior Notes due 2015, the 8.75% Senior Notes due 2017 and the Senior Secured Credit Facility due 2014. The Company used the net proceeds from these offerings along with cash on hand to retire or refinance approximately $2.6 billion of its debt. Financing activities for 2007 also include proceeds of $26 million from the exercise of warrants for the Company's common stock associated with the Broadwing transaction and other equity-based instruments.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
The Company incurred a net loss of $290 million in 2008 and $1.1 billion in 2007. The Company used $449 million for capital expenditures and generated $413 million in cash flows from operating activities in 2008. This compares to $633 million of cash used for capital expenditures and $231 million of cash flows provided by operating activities in 2007.
Cash interest payments are expected to be lower than the $531 million made in 2008 based on current debt outstanding, current interest rates on the Company's variable rate debt and the financing and other capital markets transactions completed in 2007 and 2008. Capital expenditures for 2009 are expected to be lower than the $449 million in 2008 as the Company expects to continue to efficiently manage its capital expenditure requirements. The Company expects to invest in base capital expenditures (estimated capital required to keep the network operating efficiently and new service development) with the remaining capital expenditures expected to be success-based, or tied to incremental revenue. As of December 31, 2008, the Company had long-term debt contractual obligations, including capital lease and commercial mortgage obligations and excluding premium and discounts on debt issuance and fair value adjustments of approximately $186 million that mature in
2009 and $583 million that mature in 2010. The Company's commercial mortgage obligation matures in 2010, but may be extended to 2015 at the election of the Company.
Level 3 had $768 million of cash and cash equivalents on hand at December 31, 2008. In addition, $130 million of current and non-current restricted cash and securities are used to collateralize outstanding letters of credit, long-term debt, certain operating obligations of the Company and certain reclamation liabilities associated with the coal mining business. Based on information available at this time, the Company believes that its current liquidity and anticipated future cash flows from operations will be sufficient to fund its business for at least the next twelve months.
The Company may elect to secure additional capital in the future, at acceptable terms, to improve its liquidity or fund acquisitions. In addition, in an effort to reduce future cash interest payments, as well as future amounts due at maturity or to extend debt maturities, Level 3 or its affiliates may, from time to time, issue new debt, enter into debt for debt, debt for equity or cash transactions to purchase its outstanding debt securities in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions. Level 3 will evaluate any such transactions in light of then existing market conditions and the possible dilutive effect to stockholders. The amounts involved in any such transaction, individually or in the aggregate, may be material. See Note 11 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for more details regarding the Company's 2008 and 2007 financing transactions.
In addition to raising capital through the debt and equity markets, the Company may sell or dispose of existing businesses, investments or other non-core assets. For example, in 2008, Level 3 completed the sale of its Vyvx advertising distribution business and the sale of certain of its smaller long distance voice customers and received aggregate net cash proceeds of $124 million.
Consolidation of the communications industry may continue. In 2006 and 2007, Level 3 participated in the consolidation of the communications industry with the acquisitions of several companies. Level 3 will continue to evaluate consolidation opportunities and could make additional acquisitions in the future.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
Level 3 has not entered into off-balance sheet arrangements that have had, or are likely to have, a current or future material effect to its results of operations or its financial position.
The following table summarizes the contractual obligations and commercial commitments of the Company at December 31, 2008, as further described in the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
Payments Due by Period
The Company's debt instruments contain certain covenants which, among other things, limit additional indebtedness, dividend payments, certain investments and transactions with affiliates. If the Company should fail to comply with these covenants, amounts due under the instruments may be accelerated at the note holder's discretion after the declaration of an event of default.
Long-term debt obligations exclude issue discounts and premiums and fair value adjustments.
Interest obligations assume interest rates on variable rate debt do not change from December 31, 2008. In addition, interest is calculated based on debt outstanding as of December 31, 2008, and on existing maturity dates.
Certain right of way agreements include provisions for increases in payments in future periods based on the rate of inflation as measured by various price indexes. The Company has not included estimates for unknown increases in future periods in the amounts included above.
Certain non-cancelable right of way agreements provide for automatic renewal on a periodic basis. Payments due under these agreements with automatic renewal options have been included in the table above for a period of 17 years from January 1, 2009, which approximates the economic remaining useful life of the Company's conduit. In addition, certain other right of way agreements are cancellable or can be terminated under certain conditions by the Company. The Company includes the payments under such cancelable right of way agreements in the table above for a period of 1 year from January 1, 2009, if the Company does not consider it likely that it will cancel the right of way agreement within the next year.
Purchase obligations represent all outstanding purchase order amounts of the Company as of December 31, 2008.
The table above does not include other long-term liabilities, such as liabilities recorded for legal matters and income taxes that are not contractual obligations by nature. The Company cannot determine with any degree of certainty the years in which these liabilities might ultimately be paid.
Interest Rate Risk
Level 3 is subject to market risks arising from changes in interest rates and foreign exchange rates. As of December 31, 2008, the Company had borrowed a total of $1.7 billion primarily under a Senior Secured Term Loan due 2014 and Floating Rate Senior Notes due 2015 that bear interest at LIBOR rates plus an applicable margin. As the LIBOR rates fluctuate, so too will the interest expense on amounts borrowed under the debt instruments. The weighted average interest rate on the variable rate instruments at December 31, 2008, was approximately 7.0%.
In March 2007, Level 3 Financing, Inc., the Company's wholly owned subsidiary, entered into two interest rate swap agreements to hedge the interest payments on $1 billion notional amount of floating rate debt. The two interest rate swap agreements are with different counterparties and are for $500 million each. The interest rate swap agreements were effective beginning in 2007 and mature in January 2014. Under the terms of the interest rate swap agreements, Level 3 receives interest payments based on rolling three month LIBOR terms and pays interest at the fixed rate of 4.93% under one arrangement and 4.92% under the other. Level 3 has designated the interest rate swap agreements as a cash flow hedge on the interest payments for $1 billion of floating rate debt.
The remaining, or unhedged, variable rate debt has a weighted average interest rate of 7.0% at December 31, 2008. A hypothetical increase in the weighted average rate by 1% point (i.e. a weighted average rate of 8.0%) would increase the Company's annual interest expense by approximately $7.0 million. At December 31, 2008, the Company had $4.9 billion (excluding fair value adjustments, discounts and premiums) of fixed rate debt bearing a weighted average interest rate of 8.7%. A decline in interest rates in the future will not benefit the Company with respect to the fixed rate debt due to the terms and conditions of the indentures relating to that debt that would require the Company to repurchase the debt at specified premiums if redeemed early.
Indicated changes in interest rates are based on hypothetical movements and are not necessarily indicative of the actual results that may occur. Future earnings and losses will be affected by actual fluctuations in interest rates and foreign currency rates.
Foreign Currency Exchange Rate Risk
The Company conducts a portion of its business in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, the currency in which the Company's consolidated financial statements are reported. Correspondingly, the Company's operating results could be adversely affected by foreign currency exchange rate volatility relative to the U.S. dollar. The Company's European subsidiaries use the local currency as their functional currency, as the majority of their revenue and purchases are transacted in their local currencies. Although the Company continues to evaluate strategies to mitigate risks related to the effect of fluctuations in currency exchange rates, the Company will likely recognize gains or losses from international transactions. Changes in foreign currency rates could adversely effect the Company's operating results.
Financial statements and supplementary financial information for Level 3 Communications, Inc. and Subsidiaries begin on page F-1.
Conclusion Regarding the Effectiveness of Disclosure Controls and Procedures
The Company's Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer have evaluated the effectiveness of the Company's disclosure controls and procedures, as defined in Rules 13a-15(e) and 15d-15(e) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"), as of December 31, 2008. Based upon such review, the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer have concluded that the Company's disclosure controls and procedures are effective and are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by the Company in the reports it files or submits under the Exchange Act is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the Securities and Exchange Commission rules and forms. Disclosure controls and procedures include, without limitation, controls and procedures designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by an issuer in reports it files or submits under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to the Company's management, including its principal executive officer and principal financial officer, as appropriate to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure.
Changes in Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
There were no changes in the Company's internal control over financial reporting identified in connection with the evaluation required by paragraph (d) of Exchange Act Rules 13a-15 or 15d-15 that occurred during the fourth quarter of 2008 that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, the Company's internal control over financial reporting.
Management's Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
Management of the Company is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting, as such term is defined in Exchange Act Rules 13a-15(f) and 15d-15(f) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Under the supervision and with the participation of our management, including our principal executive officer and principal financial officer, management assessed the effectiveness of internal controls over financial reporting as of December 31, 2008 based on the guidelines established in Internal ControlIntegrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). Based on our assessment, management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2008.
The Company's independent registered public accounting firm, KPMG LLP, has issued an audit report on its assessment of the Company's internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2008. This report appears on page F-3.
The information required by this Item 10 is incorporated by reference to our definitive proxy statement for the 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, however certain information is included in ITEM 1. BUSINESS above under the caption "Directors and Executive Officers."
The information required by this Item 11 is incorporated by reference to our definitive proxy statement for the 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
For information as of December 31, 2008, with respect to compensation plans (including individual compensation arrangements) under which our equity securities are authorized for issuance, please see "Item 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER REPURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES" above.
The information required by this Item 12 is incorporated by reference to our definitive proxy statement for the 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The information required by this Item 13 is incorporated by reference to our definitive proxy statement for the 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The information required by this Item 14 is incorporated by reference to our definitive proxy statement for the 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Pursuant to the requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned, thereunto duly authorized, this 27th day of February, 2009.
Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this report has been signed below by the following persons on behalf of the registrant and in the capacities and on the dates indicated.