Anyone who has been in the cable business over the past 20 years is well aware of Bourkoff. Before founding LionTree in 2012, Bourkoff was one of the top cable analysts in the country, and the only one in the sector covering both the equity and debt sides of the business. Along with other previous positions within UBS, Bourkoff served as vice chairman and head of Americas Investment Banking at UBS and served on the UBS Investment Banking Executive Committee. Before joining UBS, he was a high-yield research analyst at CIBC World Markets from 1997–99 and Smith Barney from 1995–97, where Institutional Investor ranked him the number one ranked cable and satellite analyst for seven consecutive years.
LionTree has offices in New York, San Francisco, Paris and London, and Bourkoff and his team have been strongly influential in the deal market. According to a 2017 New York Times profile, Bourkoff first pitched the idea of using his investment in Charter Communications to roll up the cable business to Liberty Media chairman John Malone on Malone’s private jet. The result was Charter’s $80 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable.
Since its founding, LionTree has had a hand in more than $500 billion in transactions, including Liberty’s purchase of Virgin Media in 2013 and the sale of its German and Eastern European assets to Vodafone in 2019 for $20 billion. More recently, LionTree advised Viacom in its $20 billion merger with CBS, Virgin Media founder Richard Branson’s satellite venture Virgin Orbit and TiVo in its $3 billion merger with Xperi.
In his 2019 end-of-year letter to employees, Bourkoff said the focus for 2020 would be on whether scale players can move from the disruption of 2019, take an offensive posture and continue to innovate.
“The answer, of course, is that they must,” Bourkoff wrote. “The next decade will be the stage for a clash of titans, as battle-tested platforms that have emerged stronger than ever will compete against one another for consumers’ attention. As advisers first and foremost, we must be cognizant of the fact that each scaled player’s ‘motion’ will be different.”
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Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.