The rumored deal combining Colorado's two largest telecom employers is actually happening.

CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) is buying Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT) of Colorado in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $34 billion. The boards of the companies unanimously back the merger.

The deal, officially announced Monday morning, combines Colorado's two largest telecom employers. The companies employ nearly 9,400 people in Colorado today.

The acquisition values Broomfield-based Level 3 Communications at $66.50 per share, above Friday's closing price of $54.05 per share. It represents a 42 percent premium above Level 3's closing share price of $46.92 on Oct. 26, the day before speculation began about a possible deal between the companies.

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