LEWISTON — Two Oxford Networks stockholders concerned that a sale to Montreal-based Novacap could be a bad move have been approved for intervenor status in the case in front of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Oxford Networks announced plans this week to sell all of its stock to the private equity firm Novacap. According to a proxy statement obtained by the Bangor Daily News, the sale is for $50 million in equity and debt-financing, of which preferred shareholders would receive $17.3 million and common shareholders would receive nothing unless Novacap eventually sells some or all of Oxford for more than $55 million.

The company declined comment Friday and the Public Advocate’s Office said the sale will likely get the green light from it.

Stockholders are expected to vote on the proposed deal next Thursday in Brunswick.

“Out of respect to our shareholders and Novacap, we have attempted to remain quiet during this important process,” Oxford Networks spokeswoman Julia Muncy said.

PUC spokesman Harry Lanphear said the commission will hold a technical conference Jan. 29 to draw up a timeline to weigh regulatory approval, which is required for the sale.

“We’re looking to make sure that the utility is able to provide safe, reasonable and adequate service,” Lanphear said. “We would look at the fairness and equity for all entities involved, including consumers in Maine, the company itself and therefore, the shareholders. We try to reach a balance of all those players.”

Wayne Jortner, senior counsel at the Maine Public Advocate’s Office, met with Oxford Networks officials Thursday as part of its review of the sale. It has hired a financial expert to help with analysis and assess risk.

“The test is that it shouldn’t be adverse to the interest of ratepayers or shareholders; it’s a basically ‘do no harm’-type test,” Jortner said. “I don’t think we’re going to be finding in this case there’s going to be a very serious impact on ratepayers. It’s basically a change of ownership. I don’t think the average citizen in those territories has much to be concerned about.”

Michael Jennings of East Winthrop and Robert G. Fuller Jr. of Atlantic Beach, Fla., have been approved as intervenors in the review before the PUC.

Jennings said he’s owned 100 shares of common stock in Oxford Networks since September but has helped a friend in Winthrop who owns thousands of shares analyze their investment for about six years.

Roughly 350 people own common stock in the company, which started more than 100 years ago as a rural phone carrier. It has diversified and grown more high-tech in the past 15 years, now offering high-speed Internet services.

Jennings said he hopes to show the PUC why the sale doesn’t work for ratepayers or common stockholders.

“The preferred stockholders are receiving a great deal of benefit,” he said. “Thus, I expect the preferred stockholders will be solidly in favor. I remain hopeful, however, that more than a majority of the common stockholders will choose to either not vote at all or mark their proxy ballot against the proposed merger (next Thursday.)”

Oxford Networks had protested allowing either man into the case. PUC Presiding Officer Jordan McColman wrote on Dec. 18, “Oxford may be correct that it is unusual for stockholders to intervene …” but it is allowed by statute.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.