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LionTree, Searchlight Launch Partnership

Boutique investment bank LionTree, headed by founder and CEO Aryeh Bourkoff, one of the chief financial engineers behind Charter Communications’ purchase of Time Warner Cable, has formed a new investment venture with former Charter chairman Eric Zinterhofer’s Searchlight Capital Partners aimed at investing in growth companies in the telecom, media and telecommunications  (TMT) sector.

LightTree Capital Partners will provide an alternative to traditional venture capital and bank financings for TMT companies through less-dilutive investment structures, the company said in a statement. LionTree and Searchlight will make investments across a range of subsectors within TMT, with a focus on growth companies that have talented management teams, strong track records of performance and a clear vision for disrupting or creating large market opportunities.

“LightTree is a natural evolution of LionTree’s core capabilities that will provide our clients in the TMT space with more tailored funding solutions than offered by typical debt and equity providers,” Bourkoff said in a statement. “Too many of our high growth clients find existing capital raising options unappealing: they don’t want to raise debt while they are rapidly growing, nor do they want to raise another dilutive equity round or go public pre-maturely. Our Fortune 100 TMT clients have access to a broad range of funding solutions that straddle debt and equity. We and Searchlight will bring these same tools to our high growth TMT clients, but with a highly nuanced, industry-informed approach. Our goal is to connect our clients with the right capital and expertise to seize on their business opportunity, while maintaining maximum upside for founders and shareholders. We are excited to forge this new relationship with Searchlight, a firm we have long admired for their commitment to investors and stewardship of companies.”

Bourkoff started LionTree in 2012 after serving as vice chairman and head of investment banking, Americas at UBS. He was one of the chief architects of Charter’s purchase of Time Warner Cable, and his firm has been in on most of the big cable deals of the past several years. Since its founding in 2012, LionTree has advised on over 85 transactions representing an aggregate value of more than $300 billion. 

Zinterhofer, a former partner at Apollo Management, was Charter chairman from 2009 to 2016. He formed Searchlight Capital in 2010 with former KKR partner Oliver Haarmann and former Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan head of private equity Erol Uzmeri and remains as lead independent director at Charter.

“Since its formation, Searchlight has provided flexible capital and strategic support to businesses in complex situations in various stages of their life cycle,” Zinterhofer said in a statement. “Our firm has a particularly strong track record in the media and telecom sectors. We are focused on applying these skills to companies in rapidly evolving TMT sectors, where existing capital solutions often lack the creativity and versatility of the underlying businesses. In partnering with LionTree, we gain a partner with deep client relationships and expertise evaluating emerging business models and trends in TMT, as well as a trusted collaborator. We are confident that by bringing together Searchlight’s and LionTree’s collective expertise, we will create value-additive outcomes for all parties.”