PALMER (AP) -- Matanuska Telephone Association turned down a $187 million takeover offer for the cooperative from Alaska Communications Systems Tuesday night after a vote by members failed.
A majority of the telephone cooperative's members who cast ballots favored the deal, but MTA officials said not enough ballots were cast.
Under MTA bylaws any sale would need approval from more than half of the membership. The deal would have required at least 16,709 members to cast a ballot. Only 15,215 did so.
When the votes were tallied, members voted 9,665 to 5,490 in favor of the deal.
MTA directors returned to their Palmer headquarters after the votes were tallied to pass a formal resolution rejecting the offer, spokeswoman Pat Walsh said.
ACS president Wes Carson said the turnout set a record for an MTA election and indicated a ''strong desire to sell,'' but that his company would pursue options elsewhere in its effort to expand.
''I don't believe you'll see us doing a follow-up acquisition for MTA,'' he said.
Officials at both phone companies said the sale would have improved service and benefited MTA members who might otherwise see their company decline in value because of increased competition.
But skeptics questioned why the co-op needed to be sold and whether ACS, whose majority owner is San Francisco-based Fox Paine & Co., would look out for the needs of customers as well as a locally owned utility would.
MTA directors in May passed a tentative deal to sell the co-op to ACS for $187.5 million. As much as $100 million of that would have been distributed to members.
MTA would have been the latest acquisition for ACS, giving it control over an estimated 90 percent of the phone lines in Alaska. In addition to buying Anchorage Telephone Utility, it purchased PTI Communications, which had phone operations in Fairbanks, Juneau and 70 other Alaska communities.
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