In a fourth major transaction in a month among providers of wireline fiber optic network services, Consolidated Communications Holdings (CCH) unveiled plans on Monday to acquire Fairpoint Communications of Charlotte, North Carolina in a stock and debt deal valued at $1.5 billion.
Monday’s deal comes on the heels of fiber network mergers announced during the past month by CenturyLink and Level 3 as well as by Crown Castle-Fibernet and Windstream-Earthlink. Illinois-based CCH offers voice, data and video services across a fiber network that spans eleven states, and the merger agreement with Fairpoint would more than double the CCH network footprint to reach 24 states in all. The deal would also add 21,000 fiber route miles—17,000 of which are situated in northern New England—to the CCH network while boosting the number of CCH on-net building and fiber connected towers. Within two years of closing, analysts anticipate that the deal will double CCH’s annual revenue to approximately $1.5 billion while generating annual operational synergies of approximately $55 million.
Under the terms of Monday’s agreement, Fairpoint stockholders will receive 0.73 shares of CCH stock, valued at $20.72, for every Fairpoint share held. CCH will also assume $900 million in Fairpoint debt. At closing, CCH will emerge with a 71.3% stake in the combined entity. Contingent upon receipt of FCC, state regulatory and other required approvals, the parties expect to consummate the transaction in mid-2017. As Bob Udell, the CEO of CCH, proclaimed that the transaction “combines two companies with extensive fiber networks and complimentary strategies focusing on being the leading business and broadband provider,” a spokesman for Fairpoint shareholder Maglan Capital lauded CCH as “a very strong partner.”