Tuesday, August 17, 2004

PUC will hold hearings
on sale of Verizon

The state Public Utilities Commission said yesterday it plans to schedule public hearings on the proposed sale of Verizon Hawaii, in response to the large amount of public interest shown in the sale.

The commission originally said it would not hold a hearing and would accept only written or e-mail comments on the transaction until Sept. 30.

"However, due to the great public interest generated on this matter, the commission has determined that public hearings should also be used as a method of obtaining public comments," the PUC said in its order issued yesterday.

Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group announced plans in May to buy the Hawaii telephone operations of Verizon Communications for $1.65 billion.

The purchase includes the local telephone business, long distance and Internet services, and Verizon's print yellow page business. These operations produced $610 million in sales last year. The transaction does not include Verizon Wireless operations.

Verizon Hawaii is among the state's larger private employers and is Hawaii's main provider of telephone services.

Among those who called for public hearings were the Legislature's two consumer protection chairmen: Sen. Ron Menor and Rep. Ken Hiraki.

The sale is subject to approval by the state PUC, the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Justice Department.

Among those opposed to the sale is Pacific LightNet Inc., a Honolulu-based telecommunications company.

The U.S. Defense Department and Time Warner Telecom of Hawaii Inc., doing business as Oceanic Communications, have also expressed reservations about Carlyle Group's plans to revamp Verizon Hawaii's back-office operations.

State Public Utilities Commission
The Carlyle Group
Verizon Communications Inc.



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