Frontier Communications has its Western Washington headquarters in Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Frontier Communications has its Western Washington headquarters in Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Frontier Communications seeks March bankruptcy, sources say

The company reportedly has $356 million of debt payments coming due March 15.

By Allison McNeely, Katherine Doherty and Sridhar Natarajan / Bloomberg

Frontier Communications Corp. is asking creditors to help craft a turnaround deal that includes filing for bankruptcy by the middle of March, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Frontier is the provider of telecom services in 29 states. The company’s Western Washington headquarters is in Everett.

Company executives including Bernie Han, Frontier’s new chief executive officer, met with creditors and advisers Thursday and told them the company wants to negotiate a pre-packaged agreement before $356 million of debt payments come due March 15, the people said. They asked not to be identified because the meeting was private.

Certain Frontier creditors signed confidentiality documents that restrict their ability to trade in preparation for the negotiations, the people said.

A representative for Frontier declined to comment. Such deals typically involve a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which would allow the company to keep operating without interruption of telephone and broadband service to its customers.

Frontier’s 9% unsecured notes due in August 2031 dropped 1.5 cents on the dollar to 43 cents, according to Trace bond trading data, pushing the yield to nearly 24%. The shares were little changed at 68 cents each at 9:37 a.m. in New York.

A Frontier bankruptcy would rank as one of the biggest telecom reorganizations since Worldcom Inc. in 2002. Frontier has been in talks with advisers about possible solutions to its $17.5 billion debt load, which has become a heavy burden as people stop using land lines.

Frontier is in the process of selling its Northwest assets — broadband services in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana — to Kirkland-based WaveDivision Capital for $1.36 billion. In Washington, Frontier serves customers in Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties and eastern portions of the state. The deal is making its way through the state and federal regulatory process.

Creditors have been pushing Frontier for a restructuring plan, and the Norwalk, Connecticut-based company has warned that bankruptcy might be the result.

A group of creditors including Elliott Management Corp. and Franklin Resources Inc. held nearly 50% of the company’s bonds and organized with law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and investment bank Ducera Partners LLC, Bloomberg previously reported.

A separate group of creditors including GoldenTree Asset Management LP organized with Houlihan Lokey Inc. and Milbank LLP. Frontier is getting advice from Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Evercore Inc.

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