CHARLOTTE…FairPoint Communications, the Charlotte-based local phone company that grew to 16th largest local telecom in the U.S. by buying up rural carriers, has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an initial public offering of stock.

In documents filed with the SEC Tuesday, the company said it hopes to sell nearly 43 million shares at $16 each to raise $685 million in the IPO it said in papers filed with the SEC.

FairPoint said it intends to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FRP. The documents note that at the end of 2003 FairPoint had $825.6 million in long-term debt, $843.1 million in assets and $5.6 million in cash.

Founded in 1991, FairPoint acquired 30 rural telecoms and now owns and operates 26 of them in 17 states. The company reported net income of $1.7 million in 2003, and $13.2 million in 2002. It had total net revenue of $231.4 million from 2001-2003.

The company originally filed for an IPO in May 2000, but withdrew before the end of the year as the economic downturn forced many companies lined up for IPOs to back pedal.

MedCath Corp., which operates hospitals, launched the most recent IPO by a Charlotte company in 2001.