updated 12/5/2005 8:48:33 AM ET 2005-12-05T13:48:33

Telecommunications giant Verizon Communications Inc. said late Sunday that it is looking to sell or spin off the domestic operations of its directories publishing business, Verizon Information Services.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the divestiture of the business, which publishes some 1,750 directory titles and has a circulation of about 121 million copies, could bring in more than $17 billion. Verizon Information Services had combined operating revenue of $3.6 billion in 2004.

Verizon said divesting VIS through a spin-off, sale or other strategic transaction, is aimed at sharpening its focus on three core network-based businesses in the wireless, broadband and enterprise markets.

The company said it has hired Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. and JPMorgan Securities Inc. as its financial advisers, and anticipates that it could complete a disposition in 2006.

Verizon also said it expects to close its $8.5 billion takeover of MCI "shortly." The Federal Communications Commission approved the transaction on Oct. 31, but several states still must sign off on the deal.

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