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MEEKER — The new owner of NC Telecom is a familiar company.
UBET Wireless will take over ownership of NC Telecom’s assets after making a winning bid of $4.15 million in last Friday’s bankruptcy auction in Denver.
UBET Wireless of Roosevelt, Utah, is a subsidiary of UBTA-UBET, which owns 100 percent of the stock in NC Telecom.
“They are two separate companies,” said Rick Heming, general manager for NC Telecom. “UBET Wireless is the wireless division of UBTA. UBET Wireless will become owner of the assets, the physical assets, they’re not taking over the stock.
“NC Telecom will be left as a corporation with no assets,” Heming said. “UBET is buying all of the assets, not buying the name necessarily. They now own all of the assets, and they can put those assets into UBET Wireless or put them back into NC Telecom. From a customer standpoint, it doesn’t matter which company owns the assets.”
Besides UBET Wireless, two other companies — CenturyTel Communica-tions and Tri-State Generation and Transmission — took turns bidding on NC Telecom.
“Bidding was vigorous,” Heming said of the auction, which started at 10 a.m. last Friday, finished around 1:30 p.m. and included 36 bids.
“Now there’s the transition process,” Heming said. “It’s like buying a house. You have a closing date down the road.”
Heming said the ownership transition will be finalized after the first of the year.
“UBET won’t actually take over until January,” Heming said. “Until then, everything is status quo. After the sale is finalized and closed, how the new owner will handle things is obviously up to them, but we don’t anticipate any changes.”
Heming said he was pleased with the outcome of the auction.
“Our hope was to generate the most money for the creditors,” Heming said.
Those creditors include Rio Blanco County, which in 1999 gave more than $1 million in start-up money to NC Telecom, in return for services.
“Distribution to creditors will be done through a plan of reorganization, which specifies how the money will get distributed,” Heming said. “That’s part of the closing process, and probably also will be done in January. That’s one of the items the attorneys will start working on. They both are in progress at this point.”
NC Telecom’s total debt was between $14 million and $15 million.
In the meantime, NC Telecom, which has an office in Meeker, announced a network upgrade on its Web site.
“During the coming weeks we will be re-routing our Internet traffic in order to increase the bandwith we receive,” according to the announcement. “While we are working on the network upgrade … customers may notice minor fluctuations in service levels, but there will not be any interruption of service.”