Home News Local news GERS Moving Ahead With Plans to Purchase Vitelco, Lawyers Say

GERS Moving Ahead With Plans to Purchase Vitelco, Lawyers Say


Feb. 6, 2007 — A deal between Innovative Communications Corp. and the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS) relating to the purchase of the V.I. Telephone Co. is "definitely going to get done," attorneys for ICC owner Jeffrey Prosser said during a bankruptcy hearing Tuesday.
In response to questions posed by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald about the status of the deal, attorney Michael Lichtenstein, representing Prosser, said GERS representatives "have either gone or will be going" to New York to meet with "financial professionals" to discuss the purchase.
"The focus is on selling Vitelco to GERS," he said.
After the hearing, Prosser added that GERS has "definitely expressed interest in doing the transaction," and would "certainly be moving forward" with the negotiation process.
When contacted Tuesday evening, GERS Administrator Willis C. Todmann said he is "not sure" how to respond to ICC's claims, since he was unable to attend Tuesday's hearing, which was held in District Court on St. Thomas.
"In the last letter sent to Vitelco, the board [GERS' executive board of trustees] indicated that we were interested in looking at the possibility of purchasing the company and maybe evaluating what it would cost," he said. "But I cannot say whether the deal will be consummated anytime soon."
Todmann added that if GERS does decide to purchase the telephone company, the matter does not need to be cleared by the legislative or executive branches of government. "We are a separate entity of the government," he explained. "Once the board of trustees votes on the matter, that decision does not require the consent of the Legislature or the governor."
In December, former GERS Board Chairman Carver C. Farrow issued a statement saying that GERS had sent a "confidential letter of interest" to Prosser communicating the board's interest in purchasing Vitelco.
However, at a previous Senate meeting, Carver testified that the system "could not possibly afford" to acquire the company, or conduct a feasibility study addressing the merits of the purchase, but would be able to manage it if Vitelco is bought by the government (See "GERS Chairman Comes Clean on Prosser's Secret Letter to Bankruptcy Court").
On Tuesday, Todmann said GERS was still conducting "the proper due diligence," which will ultimately determine the fate of the deal.
After Tuesday's hearing, Prosser also said ICC is also moving forward with a reorganization plan, which will address how Prosser's creditors — Greenlight Companies and the Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative — would be paid.
"Hopefully, in a short time there will be some sort of settlement that benefits all parties involved," Prosser said. "I hope we get to that point soon."
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