US WEST Inc. said Monday it will create two classes of common stock in an effort to reflect the diversity of its telecommunications and multimedia businesses and improve its stock performance.
Shareholders will receive one new share for every US WEST share in a tax-free distribution, with their economic interest remaining the same.Current shares will be redesignated as the US WEST Communications Group, tracking the 14-state telecommunications business, and the new shares will be in the US WEST MediaVision Group, focusing on multimedia, wireless, directory and international assets.
US WEST Communications will pay a quarterly cash dividend of 53.5 cents, while US WEST MediaVision will pay no dividend.
The company said the change will not affect the way US WEST U S West issues debt, so it does not expect its credit ratings to change.
Richard D. McCormick, US WEST chairman and chief executive officer, said the company has three goals in the stock change: to remain a consolidated corporate entity, to increase flexibility and to benefit shareholders.
"We have felt for some time that the financial market is undervaluing our stock . . . because our growth strategy has resulted in a mix of assets with differing characteristics," said McCormick.
The telecommunications and the multimedia segments differ in indicators used by the financial community to measure value, McCormick said.
"We believe that creating targeted stocks will help them (investors) realize full value from the company's long-term strategy, while at the same time enhancing our financial flexibility," he said.
The Englewood-based telecommunications giant serves telecommunications customers in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.