HT not OK

Been reading about Hawaiian Telcom’s filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning. Not that it really affects me–I haven’t had a land-line in years, which is probably part of HT’s problem. Certainly, the trend towards cell-phones, Skype and cable phone service is certainly causing problems for Hawaiian Telcom (to the tune of $425 million in losses since mega-private equity fund Carlyle Group bought the phone company from Verizon Hawaii back in 2005) and every other land-line provider out there.

But what I find most surprising about the HT bankruptcy news is how HT can fail so utterly (it has nearly $1 billion in debt?!) when it’s owned by huge, massive, ridiculously wealthy and well-connected Carlyle Group. I mean, when Carlyle bought the company it was practically choking on its own hubris about how great this would be for local phone customers.
“We’re a company that has come full circle, back to being locally managed again,” Michael Ruley, then HT’s CEO, said in this May 3, 2005 press release. “The company was founded more than 120 years ago to serve Hawaii’s people, and today we’re returning to that original mission.”
Did I mention that HT sacked Ruley in February of this year, in favor of a “restructuring guru”? Or that a former Hawaiian Electric Co. exec replaced that guy in May? Coming full circle seems to be something HT does on a regular basis.

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