FairPoint To Try Again for Vermont Post-Bankruptcy Approvals

FairPoint Communications Inc. says it will try again to convince Vermont regulators to approve its post-bankruptcy reorganization plan.

State public service commissioners in late June turned down FairPoints proposal; the company could have emerged from bankruptcy by the end of this summer but officials werent convinced of FairPoints financial standing. [A]nalysis of FairPoint’s finances, assuming that FairPoint cannot significantly improve its performance suggests that FairPoint will face financial difficulties in the future,” Vermont Public Service Board members wrote in a 96-page decision.

Last week, FairPoint reportedly was ready to ask a federal bankruptcy court in New York to overturn the June 28 ruling. All along, such a move was an option. But Michael Smith, FairPoints Vermont president, told Bloombergs BusinessWeek on Monday that the company is instead going to try to work it out in Vermont.”

Indeed, Vermonts Public Service Board said in June it would welcome a revised proposal from FairPoint, and that it would consider any new filings from the service provider expeditiously.”

“We still reserve the right to go back to the federal bankruptcy court should this ruling be … different from our expectations,” Smith told BusinessWeek.

An industry expert told VON/xchange in June that approach has never been done, raising an interesting and untried question.”

In the meantime, FairPoint has received approvals from 17 other states, including New Hampshire and Maine, the nexus of the operators financial meltdown. FairPoint filed bankruptcy after paying $2.7 billion for Verizon Communications Inc. landlines in New England; the carrier failed to handle the back-office and cutover transitions under the burden of too much debt.

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