UPDATE 1-Primus Telecommunications files for bankruptcy

NEW YORK, March 16 Mon Mar 16, 2009 5:15pm EDT

NEW YORK, March 16 (Reuters) - Primus Telecommunications Group Inc PRTL.OB, a provider of long-distance phone and Internet services, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday.

The McLean, Virginia-based company has between $500 million and $1 billion in debts and between $100 million and $500 million in assets, according to court documents.

The company generated more than 80 percent of its third-quarter sales of $231 million from outside the United States from its communication networks and fiber optic systems, according a securities filing.

When the dollar was trading near a record low in August, the company raised its earnings and cash-flow targets. Since then, the dollar has rallied sharply and the company warned late last year a stronger U.S. currency was cutting its revenues, undermining its ability to service dollar-denominated debt.

Moody's said in December it was lowering its credit rating for Primus in anticipation that the company would default on $23 million in long-term debt that was coming due this year beginning in June.

The company said in a securities filing at the end of 2007 that it had 1,817 employees, with most of the staff located in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The company's shares closed down 10.7 percent at 2.5 cents.

Company representatives were not immediately available to comment.

The case is In re: Primus Telecommunications Group Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 09-10867. (Reporting by Tom Hals; editing by Richard Chang)

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