Shentel-Horizon Deal Clears FCC Public Comment Hurdle

Jan 10, 2024

By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policy band

Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2024 – Shentel’s deal to buy an Ohio telecom company is looking good so far at the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC needs to approve Shentel’s purchase of Horizon Telcom, which is based in Chillicothe, Ohio, and was founded in 1895. The FCC’s formal public comment period closed last Friday, but no one has voiced opposition to the transaction – a sign that formal FCC approval should be a routine matter.

The Shentel-Horizon deal, however, is still pending before the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau.

Last October, Shentel announced plans to buy Horizon for $385 million in cash and stock. Horizon has a 7,200 route-mile fiber network that passes 32,000 homes and businesses. Horizon derives about 64% of its revenue from commercial customers.

Horizon is controlled by Novacap Management Inc., a Canadian private equity firm. Novacap just closed on its acquisition of All West Communications in Kamas, Utah.

Based in Edinburg, Va., Shentel provides broadband Internet service to 146,797 residential and business locations over traditional cable and fiber optic networks.

Shentel submitted the transaction to the FCC last Nov. 7 because Horizon holds FCC authorizations that can’t be transferred to Shentel without the agency’s approval.

In its filing, Shentel said the transaction would serve the public interest because the combined company “plans to invest significant resources and capital into … businesses, services, and network capabilities.”

Shentel added that the deal “will not result in the elimination of a service provider in existing markets, and Shentel’s plans are likely to enhance competition in the marketplace for both residential and commercial data services and other communications services.”

Following completion of the transaction, mutual fund giants BlackRock and Vanguard will own 16.3% and 10.96%, respectively, in the newly merged company, Shentel said.