CLARKE CANFIELD

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) ¿ FairPoint Communications Inc. had its work cut out when it grew sixfold overnight by buying Verizon Communications' land line and Internet operations in three New England states. But the nation's credit crisis and a bungled technology transfer made the task virtually impossible.

With a battered financial sheet and a tattered reputation, FairPoint filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, barely 18 months after becoming the dominant telecommunications company in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The bankruptcy filing was widely anticipated and fulfilled critics' predictions that FairPoint was taking on more than it could handle when it bought the Verizon properties for $2.3 billion.

But nobody's taking satisfaction in saying, "I told you so."

"What good does it do us? We can say it, but we're left here to do deal with it," said Pete McLaughlin of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents FairPoint employees.

FairPoint, based in Charlotte, N.C., owns and operates phone companies in 18 states with a total of 1.65 million lines. Its largest holdings are in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

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