Trans National Communications International Inc., a privately held reseller and VoIP carrier based in Boston, filed Sunday for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code. The news spread quickly through the agent community, raising concerns the carrier might cancel agent contracts and discontinue evergreen commission payments.
A company spokesperson responded to Channel Partners’ inquiries on the implications for channel partners, saying that the company already is holding calls with its agents about the situation. TNCI President Brian Twomey also offered the following statement:
"We will use this time under reorganization to regain our financial health and focus. While we will continue to operate our business without interruption to our customers, agents and employees throughout this process, we hope to emerge from Chapter 11 as quickly as possible. TNCI does fully recognize the importance of the Agent Channel to the future of our business and every step we are making is to preserve these vital relationships, along with those we have with our customers and our employees.”
PlanetOne CEO Ted Schuman said, "It's far too premature to speculate as to how this is going to impact TNCI agents. We'll be speaking to their senior management team on Tuesday to gain some perspective as to what the next steps are and the future direction of TNCI."
PlanetOne is a member of the Agent Alliance, which had banked heavily on the success of TNCI, creating an equity program for the alliance and other telecom agents in June 2008. The plan was heralded at the time for TNCI’s ability to get to a transaction. Twomey pointed to the successes of TNCI's parent company Trans National Group and its founder and chairman, Steven Belkin, a serial entrepreneur who may be best known as one of the owners of Atlanta Spirit LLC, the parent company of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team and the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team. Belkin founded his first company in 1974 and nearly 30 other companies, including TNCI, since then. Twomey said 14 of these were sold.
Speaking on background, agents told Channel Partners the company had become less communicative lately, raising concerns that “something was brewing."
According to a report in the Boston Business Journal, citing the bankruptcy filing, TNCI’s largest unsecured creditor is Sprint Communications, to which it owes more than $5 million. It also owes 1.9 million to Qwest/CenturyLink Inc., $1.66 million to AT&T, $1.2 million to Universal Service Administrative Co. of Atlanta and $1 million to Verizon.
In its filing, TNCI listed assets of $1 million to $10 million and liabilities of $10 million to $50 million.