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SBC confirms inquiries about access lines but says it has capital to fund AWS deal

SAN ANTONIO-Rebuffing claims that it was looking to sell up to 650,000 rural access lines in Michigan and Texas to help fund subsidiary Cingular Wireless L.L.C.’s pending acquisition of AT&T Wireless Services Inc., SBC Communications Corp. said in a statement that while it has received inquiries about the possible sale of access lines, the telecommunications provider has sufficient capital to fund the wireless acquisition.

“SBC has sufficient financial resources to fund the AT&T Wireless transaction without the sale of any access lines,” the company said, adding it had a “fiduciary responsibility to explore all options and determine if a sale is in our owners’ best interest.”

Published reports indicated the access line sale could net SBC about $1.5 billion and that a number of potential buyers were interested including CenturyTel Inc., Alltel Corp. and Commonwealth Telephone Enterprise Inc. SBC’s 60 percent tab for Cingular’s pending $47 billion purchase of AWS including $6 billion in assumed debt is expected to cost the company in excess of $28 billion.

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