Shareholders approve Oxford Networks’ sale to Canadian firm

Posted Jan. 24, 2014, at 6:04 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 26, 2014, at 3:05 p.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — The shareholders of Oxford Networks voted on Thursday to approve a deal that would see the Lewiston-based telecommunications company be acquired by a Canadian private equity firm.

The vote paves the way for Montreal-based Novacap to acquire Oxford Networks for $50 million, which includes a payment of $18.5 million in cash and the assumption of roughly $30 million in debt.

Oxford Networks is a 113-year-old telecommunications and IT services firm headquartered in Lewiston. It employs approximately 120 people and operates a fiber optic network between Bangor and Boston, as well as a data center at Brunswick Landing.

“We are very appreciative of our shareholders’ approval of the merger, as we believe it is critical to the long-term success of Oxford Networks,” Craig Gunderson, Oxford Networks’ president and CEO, said in a statement.

Not all shareholders voted to approve the measure. Michael Jennings, a common shareholder and vocal critic of the deal, called Thursday’s stockholder meeting a “eulogy for a 114-year-old Maine owned company.”

Jennings chief complaint is that owners of Oxford Networks’ roughly 890,000 shares of common stock receive nothing upon closure of the deal. They instead receive what’s known as a contingent rights agreement, which is a contract that lays out the circumstances through which common shareholders may receive something whenever Novacap sells Oxford Networks and earns back at least three times its initial investment of $18.5 million.

“Time will tell how fairly the contingent rights agreement will treat the common stockholders who have not asserted their appraisal right under Maine law,” Jennings said in an email to the Bangor Daily News.

The proposed acquisition still needs to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission, the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

Jennings said he would continue to oppose the deal in front of the Public Utilities Commission.

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