State regulators in Ohio unanimously approved on Thursday (Feb. 11) the acquisition of the local wireline operations of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) serving residential and small-business customers by Frontier Communications Corporation (NYSE: FTR).
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved two agreements reached among various parties in December: one among Verizon, Frontier, the PUCO staff, the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and Cincinnati Bell Extended Territories, LLC; and another among Verizon, Frontier and Comcast Phone Ohio, LLC.
Ohio becomes the fourth state to approve the transaction. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada and the Public Service Commission of South Carolina both unanimously approved the transaction on Oct. 28, 2009. Unanimous approval by the California Public Utilities Commission was granted on Oct. 29.
At the federal level, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice granted the parties’ request for early termination of the waiting period required under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.
“Regulators in Ohio have put consumers first in approving this transaction,” said Carl Erhart, president of Verizon’s Central region. “The transaction will further each company’s strategic focus, and it holds numerous benefits for consumers and small businesses in Ohio, including Frontier’s commitment to increase broadband availability.”
On May 13, 2009, Verizon announced plans to divest its local wireline operations serving residential and small-business customers in predominantly rural and small- to medium-sized areas in 14 states, and that Frontier would acquire these operations.
The operations Frontier will acquire include all of Verizon’s local wireline operating territories in Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. In addition, the transaction will include a small number of Verizon’s exchanges in California, including those bordering Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.
Regulators in Arizona, Illinois, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia, along with the Federal Communications Commission, also must approve the transaction or related transfers. In addition, Frontier has received cable television franchise approval from the 41 communities the company will serve in Oregon and Washington State, subject to meeting certain conditions of such approvals.