Liberty’s $1.12B GCI buy gets pushback from Alaskan rivals Quintillion and ACS

Liberty chief John Malone
Liberty Interactive chief executive John Malone.

Liberty Interactive’s proposed $1.12 billion purchase of General Communications Inc. (GCI) is getting pushback from two rival Alaskan telecom companies.

Anchorage-based Quintillion and Alaska Communications (ACS) have filed an opposition brief (PDF) with the FCC, claiming the acquisition will harm consumers. Both companies have previously complained about the high wholesale rates GCI charges them to use network infrastructure. Allowing GCI to be bought by Liberty chief John Malone will only worsen the situation, they argue. 

“Quintillion raised a number of serious concerns regarding the likely effect of the proposed transactions upon the ability of Alaskan residents, businesses, and institutions to access adequate and competitive communications services on reasonable rates, terms, and conditions, especially given GCI’s claim the transaction would allow it to better carry out its plans in Alaska,” the document reads.

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In letters sent to the FCC in June, Quintillion’s billionaire owner, Leonard Blavatnik, urged the FCC to place special conditions on the merger. “Quintillion understands that Liberty and Mr Malone have a lengthy history of notoriously aggressive and bottom-line focused dealings in U.S. and international markets,” he said. 

The Alaska Dispatch was the first to report on this news.

RELATED: Liberty’s $1.12B purchase of GCI gets Justice Department signoff

Alaska Communications, meanwhile, told the agency that a combined Liberty and GCI “will have greater incentives and ability to exercise market power to deprive wholesale customers (who are competitors) as well as retail customers of affordable access to GCI-Liberty network facilities and services.”

As for specific conditions, the two companies are urging the FCC to put stipulations that millions of dollars in federal funds received by GCI each year remain committed to Alaska. 

"Quintillion has emerged of late as a rival to GCI, building fiber in northern and interior Alaska,” the Dispatch notes. Alaska Communications, meanwhile, competes with GCI for business services. 

As for the merger, it’s already received antitrust signoff from the Justice Department. Rumors have circulated that Malone will eventually move GCI into another one of his cable assets, Charter Communications, for which he is the biggest shareholder.

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