Vitts’ Creditors Seek Shutdown

Creditors of Vitts Networks, a Manchester, N.H., voice and data service provider operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, want a judge to force the company to close on April 9.

The request was made Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, the Union Leader newspaper of Manchester reported. A ruling will be made at a later date.

Such a move is opposed by New Hampshire regulators and the state’s attorney general. They want Vitts to give its remaining customers a closing 60-day notice to switch providers, and have pledged to fight any efforts to force an early closure.

Its the latest twist in Vitts’ drawn-out demise. The venture-backed company, launches to compete in New England against the likes of Verizon and other voice/data providers, fired 270 employees in January. It kept 70 workers to help it wind down operations.

Days later it announced it had found an investor to keep it in business. But shortly after that, on February 7, Vitts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware, saying it could no longer remain in business. Efforts to find a buyer have failed.

Taking their cue from the turmoil, many of Vitts’ customers aren’t waiting around. Entering 2001 with about 3,000 business customers in New England, Vitts reportedly has seen its customer list dwindle to around 1,300, as companies scramble to replace their telecommunications carriers.

As for the pending shutdown, state law requires Vitts to give customers a 60-day warning before closing so they can secure a new provider.

Vitts’ creditors, meanwhile, see the company losing up to $2 million each month it remains in business.

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