LITTLE ROCK, Ark., July 01, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Uniti Group Inc. (“Uniti”) (UNIT) issued a statement today in response to the motion filed in the bankruptcy cases of Windstream Holdings and its subsidiaries (collectively, “Windstream”) by UMB Bank, National Association and U.S. Bank National Association, as indenture trustees for certain unsecured notes issued by certain of Windstream Holdings’ subsidiaries, seeking to prevent Windstream’s continued payment of rent under its master lease agreement with Uniti.
Windstream Holdings makes monthly rent payments to Uniti under the master lease in exchange for access to Uniti’s network, which Windstream uses to serve its customers. Federal bankruptcy law requires that Windstream continue to make regular rent payments to Uniti during its bankruptcy in order to maintain access to the network, and throughout its bankruptcy, Windstream has continued to make the required timely rent payments to Uniti.
Kenny Gunderman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Uniti, commented, “Uniti’s relationship with Windstream is simple: Uniti owns the network that Windstream uses to service its customers, and Windstream must continue to pay rent in order to maintain access to the network - otherwise it will not be able to operate its business. This latest effort by out-of-the money junior creditors of Windstream to extract value from Uniti does nothing to change that essential fact. Consistent with the views of Windstream’s counsel and advisors when the lease was established, we believe that the lease is a true lease and will be respected and enforced as such, and we will vigorously contest any argument to the contrary.”
Mr. Gunderman continued, “As we have repeatedly said, we intend to be long-term partners for Windstream and we remain open to working with Windstream and its constituents on mutually beneficial modifications to the lease. We hope that Windstream and its constituents will focus on building a sustainable plan for Windstream’s future rather than pursuing meritless litigation that gambles with the stability of the business and puts at risk the customers it serves.”
Uniti, an internally managed real estate investment trust, is engaged in the acquisition and construction of mission critical communications infrastructure, and is a leading provider of wireless infrastructure solutions for the communications industry. As of March 31, 2019, Uniti owns 5.6 million fiber strand miles, approximately 500 wireless towers, and other communications real estate throughout the United States. Additional information about Uniti can be found on its website at www.uniti.com.
Certain statements in this press release may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended from time to time. Those forward-looking statements include all statements that are not historical statements of fact including those regarding Uniti’s comments on UMB and U.S. Bank filing in Windstream’s bankruptcy case.
Words such as “anticipate(s),” “expect(s),” “intend(s),” “estimate(s),” “foresee(s),” “plan(s),” “believe(s),” “may,” “will,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “seek(s)” and similar expressions, or the negative of these terms, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management’s current expectations and beliefs and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could lead to actual results differing materially from those projected, forecasted or expected. Although we believe that the assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained. Factors which could materially alter our expectations include, but are not limited to, the future prospects of our largest customer, Windstream Holdings, which filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code; our ability to continue as a going concern if Windstream Holdings were to reject the master lease or be unable or unwilling to perform its obligations under the master lease; any judicial decisions as to whether the master lease should be recharacterized; the ability and willingness of our customers to meet and/or perform their obligations under any contractual arrangements entered into with us, including master lease arrangements; the ability of our customers to comply with laws, rules and regulations in the operation of the assets we lease to them; the ability and willingness of our customers to renew their leases with us upon their expiration, and the ability to reposition our properties on the same or better terms in the event of nonrenewal or in the event we replace an existing tenant; the adverse impact of litigation affecting us or our customers; our ability to renew, extend or obtain contracts with significant customers (including customers of the businesses we acquire); the availability of and our ability to identify suitable acquisition opportunities and our ability to acquire and lease the respective properties on favorable terms; the risk that we fail to fully realize the potential benefits of acquisitions or have difficulty integrating acquired companies; our ability to generate sufficient cash flows to service our outstanding indebtedness; our ability to access debt and equity capital markets; the impact on our business or the business of our customers as a result of credit rating downgrades and fluctuating interest rates; our ability to retain our key management personnel; our ability to qualify or maintain our status as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”); changes in the U.S. tax law and other state, federal or local laws, whether or not specific to REITs; covenants in our debt agreements that may limit our operational flexibility; other risks inherent in the communications industry and in the ownership of communications distribution systems, including potential liability relating to environmental matters and illiquidity of real estate investments; the risk that the agreements relating to our pending transactions may be modified or terminated prior to closing; the risks related to satisfying the conditions to our pending transactions; and additional factors described in our reports filed with the SEC.
Uniti expressly disclaims any obligation to release publicly any updates or revisions to any of the forward-looking statements set forth in this press release to reflect any change in its expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any statement is based.
INVESTOR AND MEDIA CONTACTS:
Mark A. Wallace, 501-850-0866
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer
Bill DiTullio, 501-850-0872
Director, Finance and Investor Relations