Shareholders of telecommunications companies Consolidated Communications and FairPoint Communications voted Tuesday to approve a proposed merger.

Consolidated announced in December that it was buying FairPoint for $1.5 billion, assuming its debt and offering dividends to stockholders. Shareholder voting took place Tuesday at Consolidated in Illinois and at FairPoint in North Carolina.

FairPoint, based in Charlotte, is a telephone and internet provider that serves homes, businesses and public institutions.

In 2007, FairPoint bought Verizon’s landline system in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, creating its northern New England division, for $2.3 billion, and the lion’s share of its business is in those three states. Less than two years later, FairPoint filed for bankruptcy protection because of crushing debt, emerging from that process in January 2011. Workers also led a four-month strike against the company in 2015, affecting 800 employees in Maine.

FairPoint serves over 377,000 voice connections, including residential lines, as well as 325,000 broadband subscribers across the country, according to a presentation for investors.

The two companies emphasized Tuesday that shareholders resoundingly approved of the merger. Consolidated officials said the merger will enable “long-term growth” for the company.


“Today our shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favor of the merger, bringing together two companies to create one strong, leading business and broadband provider serving 24 states,” said Bob Udell, president and chief executive officer at Consolidated Communications.

Consolidated said 98 percent of its shareholders who voted were in support of the merger, accounting for more than 70 percent of the company’s outstanding stock. FairPoint reported that about 96 percent of voting shareholders approved, representing nearly 75 percent of the company’s outstanding stock.

Consolidated, based in Mattoon, Illinois, provides business and broadband communications in 11 states. A merger with FairPoint would significantly broaden its portfolio.

FairPoint has a fiber-based Ethernet network with about 18,000 miles of fiber wires in northern New England and is a major player in telecommunications in the region.

The two companies have regulatory hurdles to clear before the merger can be finalized. FairPoint officials said they expect the transaction to be complete by the middle of the year.

Public utilities commissions in the northern New England states will hold hearings in April and May on the merger.

FairPoint officials said the companies are “securing the necessary state and federal regulatory approvals” to close the deal.

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