An internet, phone and digital services provider with a significant presence in the Tri-State has filed for bankruptcy protection.
The bankruptcy was announced Tuesday by Windstream. However, a spokesman for Windstream told The Daily Independent customers should see no impact on services in the area.
"Windstream is continuing to operate as usual throughout the Chapter 11 process and will continue serving our customers," said Scott Morris, senior advisor for corporate affairs for Windstream. "We remain committed to providing critical voice and data services in Ashland and across the rest of our 18-state footprint."
A press release from Windstream said the company and all of its subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The filing was made after a recent court decision by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York against Windstream Services, LLC, which is a subsidiary.
“Following a comprehensive review of our options, including an appeal, the Board of Directors and management team determined that filing for voluntary Chapter 11 protection is a necessary step to address the financial impact of (the judge's) decision and the impact it would have on consumers and businesses across the states in which we operate,” said Tony Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Windstream. “Taking this proactive step will ensure that Windstream has access to the capital and resources we need to continue building on Windstream’s strong operational momentum while we engage in constructive discussions with our creditors regarding the terms of a consensual plan of reorganization. We acted decisively to secure the long-term financial stability of Windstream, and we are confident that, upon completion of the reorganization process, we will be even better positioned to invest in our business, expand our speed and capabilities for our customers and compete for the long term."
“With approval from the Court, we will continue paying our employees, maintaining our relationships with our vendors and business partners and serving our customers as usual," Thomas said. "We remain committed to providing critical voice and data services and ensuring customers realize the maximum benefit in transitioning to next-generation technology solutions and premium broadband services.”
The press release said Windstream has received a commitment from Citigroup Global Markets for $1 billion in debtor-in-possession financing.
The judge's ruling in question said that Windstream Services, LLC’s 2015 spinoff of certain telecommunications network assets into a real estate investment trust (REIT) violated its agreements with bondholders. The decision arose from challenges by Aurelius Capital Management (“Aurelius”) and U.S. Bank National Association that the spinoff was invalid under the terms of those agreements.
“Windstream strongly disagrees with (the judge’s) decision,” Thomas said. “The Company believes that Aurelius engaged in predatory market manipulation to advance its own financial position through credit default swaps at the expense of many thousands of shareholders, lenders, employees, customers, vendors and business partners. Windstream stands by its decision to defend itself and try to block Aurelius’ tactics in court. The time is well-past for regulators to carefully examine the ramifications of an unregulated credit default swap marketplace.
“Windstream did not arrive in Chapter 11 due to operational failures and currently does not anticipate the need to restructure material operations,” Thomas said. “While it is unfortunate that Aurelius engaged in these tactics to advance its returns at the expense of Windstream, we look forward to working through the financial restructuring process to secure a sustainable capital structure so we can maintain our strong operational performance and continue serving our customers for many years to come.”
Local judge executives in the Tri-State are working with Windstream to address recent phone outages that impacted administrative service lines to local 911 centers. In Carter County there were at least three outages since November. In Greenup County there were four outages in the last six months. Carter County Judge Executive Mike Malone said his office has reached out to the region's state legislators to express a desire to get the problems resolved.
Buford Hurley, Greenup County's 911 director, said they are working with Windstream to examine how the systems can be made more redundant.