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  • By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

FCC clears Utah billionaire family’s acquisition of GTA

Paul Huntsman

Huntsman Family Investments on Friday received the all clear for its acquisition of GTA TeleGuam, which under the transfer agreement will remain locally managed and operated.

The acquisition was facilitated through Forager Holdings Corp.— a Delaware corporation owned by Huntsman Family Investments, The Huntsman Foundation, Mariana Holdings, B88 Financial Group LLC, Jon M. Huntsman Sr., Paul Huntsman and Benjamin Wu.

The sum of transaction was not disclosed.

In an announcement posted on its website, the Federal Communications Commission stated that the Wireline Competition Bureau “finds, upon consideration of the record, that grant of the application will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity.”

“This transaction represents our first investment in Guam and we are excited to be associated with the premier provider of telecommunications services on the island. We are committed to ensuring our customers have the highest-quality experience," said Paul Huntsman, president and CEO of Huntsman Family Investments.

Huntsman made the statement on Feb. 1, following a joint announcement of the agreement to acquire GTA from funds serviced by Advantage Partners, a Japanese private equity firm.

"In keeping with our family's commitment to the communities in which we operate, we hope this investment leads to more opportunities to invest back into the Guam community," Huntsman said.

According to application papers filed in February, “Forager will acquire all of the ownership interests in Advanced Partners TeleGuam, thereby acquiring indirect ownership of TeleGuam.”

Forager will also assume control of the interest in the Southeast-Asia US cable syste held by TeleGuam.

Huntsman Family Investments was “the right new investor for GTA,” Robert Haulbrook, GTA president and CEO, said in a statement on Feb. 1.

“HFI will enable our company to continue the development of the business to better serve the needs of our growing consumer, enterprise, and government customer base,” Haulbrook said. "Advantage Partners has been an exceptional partner over the last five years, by providing GTA with the necessary resources to transform into a full communications service provider and greatly enhancing our high-speed wireless and in home internet and TV experience for our customers.”

Huntsman Family Investments, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the private investment platform for the Jon M. Huntsman, Sr. family. In 2015, it acquired American Pacific Corp., which supplies rocket-grade ammonium perchlorate used in rockets and missiles utilized by the Department of Defense and NASA. In 2016, Paul Huntsman acquired the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.

"Guam plays a critical role in representing our country's interests in the Pacific and maintaining the integrity of our nation's security initiatives in the region. Following our investment in American Pacific Corporation, our investment in GTA allows us to continue our broader mission in supporting our military," said Benjamin Wu, partner at Huntsman Family Investments.

Benjamin Wu

"Furthermore, Guam is a gateway between Asia and the US and it is crucial that we continue building GTA's network infrastructure to meet our customers' growing demand for secure international connectivity,” he added.

Formerly known as the Guam Telephone Authority, the telecommunications company used to be owned and run by the government of Guam until it was privatized in 2005.

It was later acquired by California-based Shamrock Capital Advisors until its stocks were fully transferred to Advantage Partners Teleguam Holdings Inc. in June 2011.

GTA currently provides wireless, fixed-line, broadband and pay-television services. It has brought new services, including the launch of 3G and 4G LTE networks, the Apple iPhone, digital TV services and investments into its fiber-optic network.

Advantage Partners initially planned to transfer control of GTA to the state-owned Telekomunikasi Indonesia International Inc. or Telkom.

Both parties sealed the agreement in 2015 and the transaction was cleared by Guam’s Public Utilities Commission. However, FCC’s delayed action on the transfer application prompted Telkom and Advanced Partners to cancel the deal. Telkom and Advanced Partners tried to get an exemption from a federal law that places a 25-percent cap on foreign ownership of a telecommunications company in the United States.

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