TORONTO -- Primus has been granted creditor protection as the telecom company seeks to sell some of its assets to an American telecom provider.

The company, which resells Internet access and telephone services from the incumbent providers, said it needs time to restructure as it completes a deal with Atlanta-based Birch Communications.

Primus has 227,000 subscribers in Canada and 27,000 in the United States, and employs 500 people across Canada, including 242 employees at its head office in Toronto.

The company said its revenue has fallen by an average of nine per cent a year since 2012

It reports $101 million in debt against $18 million in current assets and $145 million in total assets, including network equipment and the value of its brand.

Primus says it is losing customers because demand for traditional phone service is falling and it can't offer the discounted bundles or mobile services available from the major carriers.