TNCI agents waiting to find out the fate of their customer accounts, residual commissions and portfolio options as the CLEC completes its acquisition by Blue Casa Telephone will not have much longer to wait.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts has ruled in favor of compelling Blue Casa to either accept or reject the existing contract that the Agent Alliance has in place with TNCI by the initial closing date of the acquisition. According to court documents, that date would be the end of the month in which FCC approval is given to the transaction.
TNCI, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Oct. 9, 2011, has had no further bids since Blue Casa became the stalking horse bidder for the company, meaning that the deal will likely go through. Blue Casa, a residential VoIP provider which does not have an agent program in place, has been in “negotiations,” it said, to decide what to do with TNCI’s channel partner contracts, but has not yet released its plan for assimilating the new sales model.
The Agent Alliance said that it became concerned when none of the TNCI agent agreements were included in the list of contracts Blue Casa told the court it was interested in assuming in the acquisition. The Agent Alliance thus filed a motion with the court to order Blue Casa to make a public decision on the in-limbo contracts sooner rather than later.
The Agent Alliance is far from celebratory at the news, however.
“We’re encouraged by the ruling, but regretfully so,” said Agent Alliance CEO Bill Power. “We’re grateful that the court ruled in our favor. But distressed to find ourselves in this position in the first place. We have to protect ourselves, our subagents and our customers, and felt our backs were against the wall.”
Power added that the Agent Alliance remains hopeful for a fair and mutually beneficial outcome.
“There is still the prospect that we may reach an agreement with Blue Casa on the terms of a deal to continue the relationship,” he said. “But given that our discussions have not been meaningful to date, it became necessary to take this action.”
Power listed out the Agent Alliance’s goals in securing an agreement with Blue Casa: “protection for the residual stream from the customers that we’ve worked so hard to generate and maintain for TNCI; payment of cure amounts that we’re legitimately owed; an ongoing commitment to the channel; a competitive portfolio of SMB telecom solutions that we can sell; reasonable compensation for future sales; and effective support to our customers and us.”