Hawaiian Telcom execs overcome bankruptcy hurdles - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaiian Telcom execs overcome bankruptcy hurdles

Eric Yeaman Eric Yeaman
Walter Dods Walter Dods

By Leland Kim - bio | email

DOWNTOWN HONOLULU (KHNL) -  A major step forward for Hawaiian Telcom's executives, as they work to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  Tuesday, a Delaware judge cleared most of the hurdles for the company to continue operating, granting motions to pay its employees and vendors.

It's good news for the state's largest telephone company and its more than half a million customers.     Hawaiian Telcom executives are hopeful the bankruptcy can help them regroup, and restructure their products and services.

Hawaiian Telcom still has a dial tone after a Delaware bankruptcy judge allowed company executives to move forward Tuesday.  It can continue operating, pay employees and vendors with $75 million it has available.  The restructuring effort is only one part of its overall strategic plan.

"We are very, very focused on making sure, one, the services that we have today would continue to provide them in a very reliable fashion going forward," said Eric Yeaman, president and CEO of the company. "But we're also very, very focused on developing and launching new products and services."

That includes wireless mobile and video technology.  Company executives acknowledge they need to jump on the wireless bandwagon to stay competitive.

"And these products are designed to help move our customers to newer technologies that ultimately allow them to reduce the cost of the communication," said  Yeaman.

With more than $1.1 billion dollars of debt, filing for Chapter 11 is a last ditch effort to continue serving customers.

"I can tell you we did everything humanly possible to avoid this," said Walter Dods, Hawaiian Telcom's chairman of the board. "The debt level is quite large and, as a banker I would tell you, that debt level is probably unsustainable in any kind of model."

But they are hopeful, they can emerge as a leaner and faster company.

"Over the years, the critics have a good and legitimate shot at us," said Dods.  "And we in the new management team plan to show that we can be as competitive and as fierce as anybody else."

"We're confident we're going to get through this restructuring, and that we're going to be able to position this company to be successful, going forward," said Yeaman.

The bankruptcy judge still hasn't ruled on how the cash flow will be managed.  That decision will likely come Wednesday.

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