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CenturyLink’s founder, Clarke M. Williams, literally grew up in the communications industry when he began delivering hand-written phone bills for the family business to rural Louisiana subscribers at the age of eight.

Today the now-public company, based in Monroe, Louisiana, is one of the three largest telecommunications service providers in the U.S. and is a global leader in cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions for enterprise customers.

Thanks to a continuous series of acquisitions—including its 2011 transaction with Denver-based Qwest—it now has more than $18 billion in annual revenue and millions of customers across the United States and internationally. Despite its scale, CenturyLink has never lost sight of its rural roots, and it remains one of the nation’s dominant rural carriers.

“The service we provide to rural America is still an incredibly important part of our business,” said Stewart Ewing, CenturyLink’s executive vice president and chief financial officer.

A longtime CoBank customer, CenturyLink turned to CoBank in early 2012 for a $440 million financing package. CoBank put together a medium-term loan that was syndicated throughout the Farm Credit System.

Ewing notes that CenturyLink had a number of different financing options at its disposal. “We could have issued bonds to institutional or retail investors,” said Ewing. “But we already had a great relationship with CoBank.  They are a good, stable bank that hasn’t gone through all the ups and downs of other institutions, and they were able to bring us a unique financing vehicle from the strength of the whole Farm Credit System.

”Rob West, senior vice president and manager of CoBank’s Communications Banking Division, said: “In order to thrive and compete in a world market, rural communities depend heavily on reliable and affordable communications services like voice and broadband. CenturyLink is an important provider of these essential services and a true partner to rural America.”

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