Frontier Communications Bankruptcy May Create Acquisition Opportunity for Rural Telcos
Frontier Communications Corporation and more than 100 subsidiaries and affiliates filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions on April 15, 2020. Frontier is the country’s seventh largest broadband provider by subscribers, it is the fourth largest incumbent telephone company and it has operations in 29 states. Frontier filed its petition after reaching a Restructuring Support Agreement with bondholders who represent more than 75% of its approximately $11 billion in outstanding unsecured bonds. Frontier’s secured creditors have not agreed to the RSA and have indicated that they may contest it. The RSA requires Frontier to file and confirm a plan of reorganization to implement the terms of the restructuring which include repaying general unsecured creditors in full while extinguishing existing equity interests. Meanwhile, Frontier will move forward with a sale this month of its operations and assets in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana to Northwest Fiber for $1.35 billion and the RSA provides for Frontier to undertake additional sales of assets during the course of the bankruptcy cases. Sales of assets during the course of the bankruptcy case will be subject to approval of the Bankruptcy Court. Rural telephone companies interested in purchasing assets should follow the bankruptcy proceeding carefully.