Haverkates’ Champion to Buy Altrio

Denver-based Champion Broadband, helmed by former WideOpenWest LLC executives Mark and David Haverkate, has agreed to buy financially strapped Los Angeles-area overbuilder Altrio Communications Inc.

The sum was undisclosed, but overbuilds often sell for much less than incumbent cable systems, which have been selling for as much as $4,000 per customer lately. Altrio officials haven’t disclosed customer counts.

Altrio CEO Dave Rozzelle confirmed that his company’s board accepted a buyout offer and will sell the operation rather than shuttering and dismantling it.

Altrio laid off most of its non-customer-service staff in October and stopped installing new customers, with executives stating that the venture was out of cash.

Mark Haverkate said he approached Altrio in early March when he heard that it might be dismantled, offering the board an alternative to shutting down the business. But he was later told that there were other bidders and that Champion’s wasn’t the highest bid.

The Haverkate brothers thought they were out of the deal picture, but Altrio reapproached them and asked them if their offer still stood.

"Champion is going to step in and take over and hopefully turn this into a successful operating entity," Mark Haverkate said, adding that the acquisition would be paid for from internal Champion funds.

Asked whether the build-out would resume, Haverkate said that’s not within Champion’s abilities right now. But he’s been making the rounds, meeting with the holders of unbuilt municipal franchises, some city officials said.

For more on Champion and Altrio, please see Linda Haugsted’s story on page 4 of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.