BCI, Buckeye Telesystem look to acquire Philadelphia-based Line Systems

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Block Communications Inc. announced it and its Buckeye Telesystem subsidiary have agreed to acquire Line Systems Inc., a suburban Philadelphia business communications provider.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Allan Block, chairman of Block Communications, said the deal will be key to the Toledo-based media company’s future growth.

“This is putting more investment and more bet into the area of our fastest-growing division,” Mr. Block said. “It just seems like that makes sense.

“We’ve done a good job in what we’ve done so far in commercial broadband telecommunications. This was this attractive company that has a record that is equal to Buckeye Telesystem’s growth, serving a much bigger market,” he added.

Line Systems is headquartered in West Chester, Pa., a western suburb of Philadelphia. The company provides voice, data, and cloud-based services to more than 10,000 business customers across 35 states, though officials said much of that is clustered into the Mid-Atlantic region.

The acquisition, which must clear regulatory approval, will significantly expand Buckeye Telesystem’s reach. Telesystem currently serves commercial customers primarily in north central and northwestern Ohio as well as southeast Michigan.

“We’re pretty excited about the opportunity and the high concentration of businesses that operate in that area,” said John Martin, president of Buckeye Telesystem.

Mr. Block said Line Systems’ culture and capabilities were a good fit with BCI, but its growth was what was truly attractive. “It is a company that is showing spectacular growth,” he said. “Growth is something we need at BCI.”

Line Systems was founded in 1999. The company was named to Inc. magazine’s 2005 list of the 500 fastest growing firms in the United States, coming in at No. 315. At the time, Inc. reported Line System’s revenue had grown from $4.3 million in 2001 to $22.5 million in 2004. Mr. Block said Line Systems’ revenues have more than doubled since then.

Officials with BCI and Buckeye Telesystems say Line Systems’ capabilities and products fit well into their own services, and should translate to improved services for all customers.

“We have a number of services which in time we would envision making available to customers on the East Coast. That only continues to leverage the investment and the assets we have here locally,” Mr. Martin said.

Line Systems will maintain its headquarters in Pennsylvania.

BCI also is the parent company of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“With the combination of Telesystem and LSI, we now have the ability to deliver innovative products and services in all areas that we operate,” said Mike Miller, CEO of Line Systems. “This acquisition is a win-win for both companies,” he added.

Block News Alliance consists of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. Tyrel Linkhorn is a reporter for The Blade.

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