Alaska’s largest telecommunications provider, GCI, has been acquired by an even larger company.
Colorado-based Liberty Interactive is reportedly buying GCI for $1.12 billion. The larger conglomerate has holdings in other telecommunications companies under the name Liberty Ventures, as well as home shopping cable channels HSN and QVC under the name QVC Group Inc.
GCI said little will change for Alaskans who use its cable, phone and internet services.
“We will continue to run the company with our focus on providing the best value for Alaska customers, offering opportunities for our employees and investing wisely in the Alaska market,” GCI CEO Ron Duncan said in a written statement.
According to GCI, it will keep its leadership and other employees intact in Alaska. The written statement outlining the deal said GCI — soon to be GCI Liberty — will remain an Alaska-based company as of the deal’s closing, but a special shareholder meeting will soon be called to vote on incorporating in Delaware.
GCI Chief Financial Officer Pete Pounds said the deal announced Tuesday represents the joining of some $5 billion in assets.
“That’s a real nice ballast to have there to weather what we think are some challenging economic times,” Pounds said. “We’ve got a much bigger set of resources to draw upon as we move together through these challenging times.”
Pounds said the challenging times include a bleak financial outlook for Alaska and continued job losses.
For its part, GCI said its thousands of employees aren’t going anywhere and its customers won’t see a difference. The company employs 2,310 people, mostly in Alaska, and has 140,800 high-speed Internet customers and 222,500 wireless subscribers.
“The situation in Alaska changes not one bit,” Pounds said. “This is a financial company that is buying an operating company. And so they’re not looking to be involved in our day-to-day business.”
What Liberty Ventures wants is an Alaska-grown company that started small — in an Anchorage apartment — and grew to span the entire state, Pounds said.
If the deal checks out with regulatory agencies, GCI expects the acquisition to close in about nine months.
The company’s new name will be GCI Liberty and will be held under the subsidiary Liberty Interactive, which owns stakes in other telecommunications companies as well as familiar names such as FTD, the flower delivery service, and EVite, the online invitation service.
GCI stock jumped more than 60 percent Tuesday following the acquisition announcement.
Note: This story was updated to reflect newer information and quotes from GCI officials.