Frontier Communications announced on Tuesday that former Verizon executive John Stratton will be executive chairman of its board once the company emerges from Chapter 11.
Frontier said it was targeting early next year for emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On Aug. 21, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved Frontier's plan of reorganization.
Stratton was voted in as executive chairman by representatives of Frontier's unsecured senior notes that were issued by Frontier, which includes Elliott Management.
Frontier Communications filed for bankruptcy on April 14 to start a prearranged $10 billion debt-cutting proposal backed by its largest bondholders. Frontier announced it had entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement (RSA) with bondholders representing more than 75% of its $11 billion outstanding unsecured bonds.
Stratton became a board observer in May after he was selected by creditors in connection with Frontier's restructuring. As board observer, Stratton supported the Frontier's Finance Committee as it developed a strategic plan focused on delivering more high-speed broadband across the 25 states in its footprint as well as "driving operational efficiency, industry-leading customer service, network reliability."
Stratton was also supportive of Frontier's plan to increase its fiber-based broadband services across its existing footprint, as well as in adjacent markets. Prior to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Frontier said in a presentation to investors, which was included in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, that it regretted not investing more on fiber network upgrades.
"Since becoming a board observer of Frontier in May, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with the Finance Committee to review and evaluate the company’s broad portfolio of assets and have developed strong confidence that Frontier can emerge as one of the nation’s leading broadband providers in the markets it serves," Stratton said in a statement. "There is significant opportunity to drive operational efficiency, deliver an exceptional customer experience, expand Frontier’s fiber footprint and achieve profitable growth. I’m looking forward to working with the management team, helping drive execution of the company’s strategic plan and achieving sustainable, long-term success.”
After 25 years, Stratton retired from Verizon Communications two years ago after most recently serving as the telco's executive vice president and president of global operations.
Prior to taking responsibility for Verizon’s global operations, Stratton served as chief operating officer of Verizon Wireless and separately, president of its global enterprise solutions group. He was also the head of wireline divisions at Verizon, where he had full responsibility for all of Verizon’s wireline operations for seven years.
During his stint at Verizon, he led a cost transformation of Verizon’s operations, developing and overseeing a restructuring of processes across all business segments that yielded more than $8 billion of annual operating expense savings, according to Tuesday's press release. Stratton currently serves on the board of directors for Abbott Laboratories and General Dynamics.
In December, Dan McCarthy stepped down as Frontier Communications' president and CEO after a 29-year career, and left the company's board of directors. Frontier's board unanimously appointed Bernie Han as McCarthy's successor across all three positions at the company.
Han brought more than 30 years of experience to Frontier, including more than 11 years at Dish Network, as well as an extensive background in finance. At Dish, Han served as CFO, COO and as executive vice president for strategic planning. Han previously worked as chief financial officer at Northwest Airlines, and chief financial officer and chief marketing officer at America West Airlines.