Telecommunications giant Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), which is closing in on completion of its purchase of MCI Inc. , is considering selling or spinning off the domestic operations of its directories publishing business, Verizon Information Services.

The New York-based phone company disclosed late Sunday that it was reviewing its alternatives for the domestic directories business, which includes almost 1,200 Verizon directory titles with a circulation of about 121 million copies.

While Verizon did not say how much the business was worth, The Wall Street Journal reported in Monday's editions that a divestiture could be valued at more than $17 billion.

Verizon said Verizon Information Services had operating revenue of $3.6 billion in 2004, operates from Texas and employs 7,300 people.

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 $7.5 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.