GTE announces agreement to sell all local telephone properties in Arizona and Minnesota, certain local telephone properties in California to Citizens Utilities; ATEAC to purchase GTE's Alaska properties.
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IRVING, Texas - GTE Network Services today announced a pair of agreements in which it will sell more than 200,000
domestic access lines. These transactions are part of the company's previously announced initiative to sell approximately 1.6 million telephone lines in the United States.
In one transaction, Citizens Utilities Company of Stamford, Conn., agreed to purchase 186,839 GTE customer access lines in Arizona, California, and Minnesota for $664 million in cash. In the other agreement, GTE will sell 12 local telephone exchanges and 20,564 access lines in Alaska to the Alaska Telephone Exchange Acquisition Corporation (ATEAC), Inc. Terms of the ATEAC acquisition were not disclosed.
"We are seeing a high level of interest in the wireline properties offered for sale, further bolstering our confidence that the repositioning initiatives
we have announced will generate in excess of $3 billion," said John Appel,
president-GTE Network Services. "These agreements are the first of several anticipated announcements for GTE wireline property sales in the coming weeks." Proceeds from the sale of GTE wireline properties - as well as GTE Airfone and GTE Government Systems - will be used to invest in other strategic initiatives, such as GTE's recent purchase of Ameritech wireless properties in Illinois and Missouri.
All three companies described these transactions as moves that will enable each of them to better concentrate on their core markets and create both immediate and long-term value for their investors.
The GTE-Citizens transaction involves 127 exchanges in three states. In Arizona, GTE is selling to Citizens all six of its exchanges and 8,112 customer access lines. In California, the transaction involves 32 exchanges and 50,765 customer access lines. In Minnesota, Citizens is purchasing all of GTE's local telephone properties, which includes 116 exchanges and 127,962 customer access lines.
Citizens Communications currently operates all-digital, local exchange properties serving approximately one million access lines in 13 states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Citizens also owns 83 percent of Electric Lightwave, Inc., a leading full-service, facilities-based integrated communications services provider of enhanced data service, frame relay, ATM and Internet access solutions to bandwidth intensive businesses and the growing e-commerce market.
ATEAC is an alliance of four Alaskan local exchange telephone companies: Alaska Power & Telephone (APT); Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative (ASTAC); TelAlaska, Inc., and United Utilities. The ATEAC consortium was formed, in response to the conditions of the sale, to offer GTE a qualified, single purchaser for all of their Alaska properties. The ATEAC partner companies currently provide telecommunications services to 104 Alaskan communities located in the regions surrounding all of the GTE Alaska properties that are being sold.
"The consolidation of operations provided by the ATEAC acquisition will enhance regional delivery of services, such as telehealth, distance education, telework support, E911, data networking, and Internet access," said Michael Burke, executive vice president - Tel Alaska, Inc. "The four owner companies of ATEAC intend to continue their long-standing business practice of concentrating on the unique needs of these regions."
Sale approval is required by the respective state commissions, the Federal Communications Commission, and the U.S. Department of Justice. The closing of the sales and transfer of GTE operations to Citizens and ATEAC are expected to be complete in 2000.
Maps of the affected exchanges can be obtained by visiting GTE's May 27, 1999, news release located at http://www.gte.com.
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With 1998 revenues of more than $25 billion, GTE is a leading telecommunications provider with one of the industry's broadest arrays of products and services. In the United States, GTE provides local service in 28 states and wireless service in 17 states, as well as nationwide long-distance, directory, and internetworking services ranging from dial-up Internet access for residential and small-business consumers to Web-based applications for Fortune 500 companies. Outside the United States, the company serves customers on five continents.