Private-equity firm TPG agreed to buy closely held cable-TV providers RCN Telecom Services LLC and Grande Communications LLC for $2.25 billion as demand for services over broadband networks increases.
TPG will acquire RCN for $1.6 billion and Grande for $650 million from private-equity firm Abry Partners LLC in separate transactions, according to a statement.
Amid consolidation in the cable industry, private-equity firms have been quietly buying smaller operators, merging them together and upgrading internet bandwidth and speed with the goal of attracting takeover interest.
On their own, cable’s tiny mom-and-pops seldom become the targets of the likes of Comcast Corp. or Charter Communications Inc. Some serve sparsely populated corners of the country, while other “over-builders” like RCN struggle to keep their TV businesses profitable as they compete against entrenched incumbents. Yet the game changes once they’re rolled up. In an industry where consolidation or acquisitions are necessary for survival, a cobbled-together, regional cable system is one of the few options left -- for both big and small providers.
TPG’s purchase comes after a wave of deals in the cable industry. Charter bought Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks LLC and Altice NV acquired Cablevision Systems Corp. and Suddenlink Communications.
Grande and RCN provide TV services in the eastern U.S., Chicago and Texas. Abry bought Grande in 2009 and RCN in 2010. Both are led by Chief Executive Officer Jim Holanda. Kirkland & Ellis is representing Abry.