Level 3 Buys WilTel

Internet-backbone provider Level 3 Communications Inc. is buying WilTel Communications Group Inc. -- which includes the company’s Vyvx subsidiary -- for close to $700 million in cash and stock.

Level 3 provides backbone service to telecommunications companies, including Cox Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. WilTel is a major provider to SBC Communications Inc., and the company also owns the Vyvx network.

Level 3 will pay $370 million in cash and 115 million shares of stock. Level 3 was trading at $2.86 per share Monday, placing the stock value at $329 million.

The companies said the deal does not include WilTel’s headquarters building, nor the assumption of WilTel’s outstanding debt or mortgage obligations.