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Qwest - the US telco that lost out in the bidding war to acquire MCI - reported positive net income for the first three months of the year boosted by the sale of its wireless business in Q1.

Operating revenues were down one per cent from $3.48bn in Q1 2004 to $3.45bn in Q1 2005. Over the same period Qwest turned a net loss of $310m into a net income of $57m.

Much of this was down to the sale of wireless assets to Verizon Wireless for $418m in cash during Q1 05. A reduction in headcount also contributed to the company's improvement, the US telco said in a statement.

"Our ability to stabilize revenues, as well as our continued diligence on cost containment and optimization, has resulted in meaningful margin expansion," said Qwest vice chairman Oren Shaffer. "We continue to improve our competitive position, performance and financial flexibility."

Publishing its Q1 numbers today Qwest also announced it had added 85,000 DSL lines in the first quarter exceeding - an increase of 51 per cent over the last year.

Bowing out of the race yesterday to acquire MCI after being beaten by Verizon, Qwest said: "It is no longer in the best interests of shareowners, customers and employees to continue in a process that seems to be permanently skewed against Qwest. We pursued MCI with tenacity and discipline and feel strongly that our bid would have brought far more value to MCI shareholders.

"Unfortunately, the latest in a string of decisions reconfirms what we have believed all along: that MCI never intended to negotiate in good faith with Qwest nor maximize shareowner value." ®

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