East Coast firm buys Alaska Communications for $343M

Alaska Communications, one of the state’s largest internet providers, has been sold to an East Coast telecommunications communications company and an investment firm.

The sale was announced at the start of the year, and ATN International Inc. said July 22 in a written statement and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the $343 million arrangement is now complete.

Through a holding company, ATN will own 52 percent of Alaska Communications. An investment firm called Freedom 3 Investments IV will own 48 percent through another holding company.

“Our brand, company name and commitment to Alaska remain the same,” said Heather Cavanaugh, a spokeswoman for Alaska Communications. She said there are no current plans to change prices.

The company was delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange on July 22, with shareholders paid $3.40 per share as part of the deal.

Alaska Communications principally sells internet and phone service to businesses, but it’s also the second-largest provider of home internet service. Alaska Communications said in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it has “less than 25 percent” of the state’s market share. Its larger competitor, GCI, was sold to a Colorado firm in 2017.

As of March 31, Alaska Communications had 555 full-time employees, and slightly over half were union-represented by the IBEW.

State and federal regulators approved the sale earlier this month. In its application to the Federal Communications Commission, ATN said it has previously provided internet access to “insular and underserved markets in the United States and the Caribbean region, and Bermuda.”

Approving the purchase on July 16, federal regulators said the sale “is likely to benefit the public interest” in part because ATN is a larger company and will increase Alaska Communications’ access to money needed to expand its broadband network in Alaska.

The approval notice said regulators expect the company to provide broadband access to more than 6,000 currently unserved locations — generally homes and businesses — in addition to an expansion planned under a federally funded program.

Another planned project could provide more than 60,000 locations in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau with high-speed wireless internet service, the FCC noted.

Alaska regulators approved the sale on July 19, noting that “nothing suggests the transaction will meet opposition.”

The approval notice said state regulators “have received several informal complaints” from customers on a variety of issues, and that the Regulatory Commission of Alaska has instructed regulatory staff “to monitor ACS going forward.”

Brittany Loper, a spokeswoman for the commission, said that language is not unusual and the commission “will continue to monitor and process complaints as usual with the utility.”

07/27/2021 - 7:23pm