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Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2000

ACS to buy Matanuska Telephone

Alaska Communications Systems Holdings Inc. has agreed to buy the assets of Matanuska Telephone Association Inc. for $187.5 million.

Boards of both companies have approved the agreement, which is still subject to approval by the membership of MTA, regulatory agencies and third parties.

ACS plans to finance the purchase with proceeds from its initial public offering last year and by an existing supplement to bank term loans from a consortium led by Chase Manhattan Bank.

"The purchase price of $187.5 million in cash returns substantial value to the people of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and adjacent areas who have built the association," said Chuck Robinson, chairman and chief executive of ACS. "We anticipate that more than $100 million will be available for distribution to MTA members. Integrating MTA's high-quality network with ours will reduce the overall consumer cost of telecommunications in the future and will permit us to extend the benefits of ACS basic and advanced services to valley residents."

MTA provides basic local exchange service to roughly 57,500 access lines, and wireless services to 12,500 cellular customers from Eagle River to Anderson Air Force Base in Clear. The MTA area -- one of the fastest growing areas in Alaska -- lies between ACS areas in Anchorage and Fairbanks. MTA revenues were $54 million in 1999.

ACS serves roughly 325,000 access lines and 73,000 cellular customers across Alaska.

Homer Electric consolidates debts

Homer Electric Association saved $4.3 million by refinancing longstanding Federal Rural Utility Service loans, and that should help keep electric rates low.

The utility took advantage of attractive interest rates and consolidated $43.9 million in debts under the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. That netted a 10 percent early payoff discount from the Rural Utility Service, said Homer Electric spokeswoman Sandra Ghormley.

"Homer Electric has been a loyal borrower and supporter of the RUS systems, but we believe the move to consolidate our debt with CFC will mean larger rate savings for our members in the future," said Rick Eckert, Homer Electric manager of finance and business development.

The covenants of the new loans are much friendlier and allow more flexibility in executing future financial plans.

"This permits Homer Electric to actively manage its balance sheet and target equity levels which would not have been possible under the strict requirements of the old RUS loan program," he said.

Homer Electric also transferred $13.3 million in transmission lines to Alaska Generation and Transmission, of which Homer Electric is a primary owner. Under AEG&T, transmission line debts receive a more favorable mortgage covenant, and that means better rates for consumers.

Peninsula students win Phillips scholarships

Theresa Chihuly of Ninilchik High School, a National Honor Society president, varsity athlete and community volunteer, is the winner of a $5,000 scholarship from Phillips Alaska Inc.

Phillips recently announced awards of 20 scholarships to high school seniors. Those total $76,000.

Homer High School's Jennifer Wambach, an athlete, student council representative and musician, also won a $5,000 scholarship.

Joel Reemtsma, a varsity athlete, accomplished musician and National Honor Society student from Kenai Central High School, won a $3,000 scholarship. So did Jillian Campbell, an athlete, honor student and community volunteer from Seward High School.

Association honors Semmens and city report

The city of Kenai has been awarded a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.

The award, the highest form of recognition for governmental accounting and financial reporting, recognizes Kenai's comprehensive annual financial report.

In addition, city Finance Director Lawrence A. Semmens received an award for financial reporting achievement.

An impartial panel found the city report to meet high standards including a constructive spirit of full disclosure. The association said the report clearly communicates its financial story and motivates the interest of potential users.

The association represents roughly 14,000 government finance professionals.

Mulva to address RDC

Jim Mulva, president of Phillips Petroleum Co., is the keynote speaker for the 2000 Annual Banquet and 25th Anniversary Gala of the Resource Development Council.

That will take place June 8 at 6 p.m. at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel.

Web design workshop offered

The Small Business Development Center will sponsor the free workshop "Introduction to Professional Web Designs," presented by David Edward-Smith of Borealis Designs.

That will be June 1 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Economic Development District office at Mile 14.5 Kenai Spur Highway.

Topics will include target marketing, defining goals, developing an attractive Web site, browser capability, optimizing Web sites and search engine placement.

Call 283-3335 for reservations.

Holland America funds tourism education

Holland America Line-Westours Inc. plans to donate $200,000 in educational grants to Alaska university programs, primarily those related to tourism. The company now has donated more than $1.7 million to the statewide university system.

Al Parish, company vice president of government relations, said the donations include:

$40,000 for the Alaska SeaLife Center through the University of Alaska.

$50,000 for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum.

$25,000 for tourism-related studies and educational programs at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka.

$10,000 for food service training program of the Tanana Valley Campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

$55,000 for the University of Alaska Anchorage, including its culinary arts program and the new writer-in-residence program. That began in 1999 featuring Peter Jenkins, author of "A Walk Across America," "Close Friends," and "The Untamed Coast."

$20,000 for Alaska Pacific University for its tourism industry management program.

Virtual experts answer remodeling questions

A panel of experts will answer questions about remodeling at www.ahba.net, the Anchorage Home Builders Association Inc. Internet site.

"This is the season that many Alaskans pull out their home improvement lists and start remodeling projects," said Elaine Taylor, chair of the AHBA Remodeler's Council. "Those new to remodeling are sure to have questions but may not know where to get the best advice. We decided an information campaign was the best thing our group could do to celebrate National Remodeling Month."



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