Windstream Leaves Channel ‘Checkered History’ Far Behind with Bankruptcy Exit



This week’s Windstream bankruptcy exit will improve the company’s perception as a stable provider in the market.

That’s according to Cindy Whelan, Omdia’s practice leader for enterprise networks and wholesale. After a year and seven months, Windstream exited chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday with two-thirds of its debt erased and $2 billion in new capital.

Windstream has reduced its debt by more than $4 billion; in addition, it becomes a privately held company. The Nasdaq delisted Its stock after Windstream filed chapter 11 in February of last year.

The Windstream chapter 11 bankruptcy saga included court battles with Uniti Group and Charter Communications. It also brought big changes for Windstream partners. Windstream also is continuing its strategic partnership with Uniti Group and has expanded that relationship.

More Confidence for Partners

Layne Levine is president of Windstream Enterprise. He said the immediate benefit for partners is more confidence in doing business with Windstream.

Windstream's Layne Levine

Windstream’s Layne Levine

“For the longest period of time, we’ve been under a cloud of financial pressure, whether it was going back to having the dividends rolled back and what that did to the stock,” he told Channel Partners. “And then we had the lawsuit and then restructuring. Through that whole time, partners understandably had reticence about doing business with Windstream. It’s tough to go pitch your valued clients, ‘Hey, I want you to do business with a company that’s either financially challenged or under a lawsuit, or in restructuring.'”

With no financial albatross around its neck, “Windstream now has one of the best balance sheets, period, in the industry,” Levine said.

“But more importantly, we’ve stayed focused this entire time around where it is our right to win with our partners,” he said. “And that’s in our strategic product set. So the partners who have been sticking with us and working with us through this period have seen that come through. There’s the emotional benefit of now you talk about Windstream with confidence from a financial perspective.”

Aggressive Approach

Windstream now is going to be “extremely aggressive,” Levine said.

“We’re going to be aggressive around our strategic product set because that’s where we bet the farm,” he said. “It’s on our SD-WAN capabilities, our UCaaS capabilities anchored with the software ownership that we have with OfficeSuite.”

The core product set makes Windstream look more like a “software-driven product powerhouse” than other telcos, Levine said.

“Between now and the end of the year, you’ll see us roll out some things in October, November and December that I would consider disruptive,” he said. “But then in January when everybody’s kind of back in the loop and hopefully the pandemic’s over, the election’s over and hopefully things have settled down and people are focused on getting back to business, we’re going to do things that are going to shake up the marketplace.”

Windstream is going to give partners tools around its strategic product set that will “set them and set us for their customers apart from anybody else,” Levine said.

“We’re going to do things to make headlines,” he said. “We’re going to be the un-telco telco … [and] do things that nobody else in the marketplace is doing. Expect a lot of innovative offerings coming from us. We’re going to make it easy to do business with us and we’re going to be the best-valued partner to the channel that can be out there.”

Windstream has a “checkered history” with the channel in the last five years, but …

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  1. Avatar Anon September 28, 2020 @ 9:52 am

    I think you meant to say that Windstream hopes to put its bankruptcy behind it in the eyes of channel partners. Their “financial cloud” caused tremendous disruption to partner operations and the competitive landscape.

  2. Avatar September 30, 2020 @ 7:06 am

    Let’s take what Ted said, “The channel rewards highly competitive, profitable and innovative providers in the networking space.” WIND used to be an aggressive pricer, which is how it got into financial trouble in the first place. Partners sold WIND on price, not value. Service delivery was always an issue. Pretty arrogant to not apologize for screwing partners for the better part of 3 years but expect partners to go back to business with them – especially when the same execs that sunk the company are still in place.

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