Windstream now has until April to submit its reorganization plan to emerge from chapter 11 bankruptcy.
On Wednesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain rejected Windstream’s request for an extension to May 31 to file its plan, and instead set an April deadline.
A major holdup in the process is Windstream’s ongoing court battle with Uniti, a publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT) consisting of network assets that Windstream divested in 2015. Windstream pays Uniti about $650 million annually to use Uniti’s network, and wants to modify its agreement.
Windstream filed suit against Uniti in July over its annual payment. A trial is scheduled for March 2-6 in federal bankruptcy court.
David Avery, Windstream’s vice president of corporate affairs, tells Channel Partners “we are pleased the judge agreed an extension is appropriate while the Uniti litigation proceeds to trial.”
“An extension to April is welcome because it suggests a swift trial ruling from the judge,” he said.
According to Windstream’s motion considered this week, the company has “advanced the Uniti litigation itself — recently defeating Uniti’s motion to dismiss almost in its entirety” and expects to “continue to prosecute the litigation to a successful ruling or other resolution in accordance with the schedule already agreed among the parties and approved by the court.”
It’s inappropriate to formulate, file, solicit and obtain confirmation of a reorganization plan until resolution of the Uniti litigation provides all parties with increased certainty, according to Windstream.
“The Uniti arrangement must be resolved in order to formulate a go-forward business model and file a viable reorganization plan,” Avery said. “Windstream has made significant progress toward a successful restructuring and will continue to work swiftly for an efficient emergence.”