Monday, December 1, 2008

Hawaiian Telcom Declares Bankruptcy

Carlyle Group's $1.65 billion bet on Hawaiian Telecom has gone bust. When the 2004 purchase from Verizon Communications was announced, Carlyle Group executive and former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Bill Kennard called it an "exciting opportunity" that was expected to add many new jobs, according to the Washington Post.

The bankruptcy filing by an incumbent local exchange carrier is extremely rare.

Hawaiian Telcom has about $1 billion in debt and missed $26 million in interest payments last month. It had been trying to work out a debt-restructuring plan with its creditors but apparently was unable to do so.

Of its current $1 billion in debt, about $574.6 million is in bank loans and $500 million is in bonds.

It isn't clear yet whether there will be other similar problems popping up. It might happen that a major proposed private equity buyout fails to occur, though.

Bell Canada Enterprises and the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, which is leading a BCE buyout plan along with three U.S.-based private equity firms, are haggling over the deal's $1.2 billion break-up fee, according to a report in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

The acquisition, valued at around $35 billion recently, had been expected to close by Dec. 11, but might now be in question after independent valuation firm KPMG advised that market conditions and other factors would make it unable to render a solvency opinion on the deal.

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