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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hawaiian Telcom to go public once out of bankruptcy

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaiian Telcom today said it will begin trading as a public company once it emerges from bankruptcy protection.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission today, the state's largest telecommunications company said it will issue 10 million shares of common stock, which it will distribute to its main creditors and will be traded on the Nasdaq market.

The company also will appoint a new board, which will include CEO Eric Yeaman, former President Warren Haruki and a number of telecommunication industry experts.

"Becoming a publicly traded company marks a significant milestone in our efforts to evolve as a stronger, more competitive company, expanding and diversifying our communications products, services and solutions, for the benefit of our customers," Yeaman said.

In November, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved Hawaiian Telcom's $460 million, stand-alone reorganization plan. The plan requires the approval of the state Public Utilities Commission.

Founded in 1883, Hawaiian Telcom is the state's largest and oldest telecommunications company.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 1, 2008, due to its heavy debt load and the loss of thousands of customers to wireless and other services.

Under the reorganization plan, Hawaiian Telcom will convert more than $500 million of bank debt into $160 million in new stock.

In addition to Haruki and Yeaman, board members will include:

-- Richard Jalkut, president and CEO of U.S. TelePacific Corp., a communications company that operates in Nevada and California;

-- Steven Oldham, president and CEO of SureWest Communications, which provides voice high-speed Internet and digital video services in Northern California and Kansas;

-- Bob Phillips III, who is president and CEO of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, which represents 1,500 rural utilities and affiliates in 48 states;

-- Paul Sunu, CFO of Hargray Communications Group, a South Carolina-based telecommunications company. Sunu is a former CFO at Hawaiian Telcom;

Hawaiian Telcom's current directors will no longer serve on the board, including chairman Walter Dods, who helped steer the company's reorganization efforts. Dods recently became chairman of Alexander & Baldwin Inc.

"I made the decision to take a more active role in the company as part of the restructuring process because I believe this institution is important to Hawai'i," Dods said.

"Upon emergence from Chapter 11, we have a local management team in place who will continue to build the trust of our employees and our customers, taking the company to the next level."