Aiming, in the words of one Verizon executive, “to focus more intently on operations in other markets,” Verizon Communications agreed Tuesday to spin off its fixed line telephony assets in three New England states to FairPoint Communications for $2.72 billion. North Carolina-based FairPoint operates local exchange phone networks in 18 states, focusing primarily on rural markets. According to sources, Verizon’s agreement with FairPoint encompasses 1.5 million local access phone lines in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont as well as 180,000 digital subscriber line customers and 600,000 long distance subscribers. Following on the spin off of its telephone directory business and the sale of its Hawaiian operations to an affiliate of the Carlyle Group for $1.3 billion, Verizon’s deal with FairPoint represents the latest step in Verizon’s strategy of diverting its resources toward broadband, wireless and IP-based video services. Under the deal, Verizon shareholders would receive $1 billion in FairPoint stock as well as one share of FairPoint stock for every 55 Verizon shares held. Upon closing, Verizon shareholders would emerge with 60% of the merged entity. FairPoint, which plans to invest $200 million on infrastructure improvements in the three-state region, would also assume $1.7 billion in Verizon debt. Verizon Telecom President Virginia Ruesterholz praised the agreement as one that “provides a fair value for this property.”