Pickup In Deals Prompts Hires By Waller

After a long dry spell, cable investment bankers are beginning to see the deal flow increase and starting to supplement their staffs.

Waller Capital Corp. beefed up its management ranks by hiring two new executives, one of whom is former TD Securities LLC vice chairman Ian Crowe. Crowe signed on earlier this month as Waller's senior managing director, with both management and development responsibilities.

Waller also signed on former Morgan Stanley Investment Banking division vice president Andrew Kessler as vice president, focusing on mergers and acquisitions and client coverage.

Crowe is a longtime cable veteran, and was at TD Securities for more than 20 years. A native of Scotland, Crowe was brought from TD's United Kingdom offices to New York in 1983 by its then-head of cable lending, current Comcast Corp. executive vice president and treasurer John Alchin.

Crowe has had his hand in several large cable deals, as TD was a big cable lender in the 1980s and 1990s to cable giants such as Rogers Communications Inc., Tele-Communications Inc. and Charter Communications Inc. But as the deal market waned after the consolidation craze of the late 1990s, TD stepped back from cable investment banking.

Waller's dozen

With the new hires, Waller has increased its employment rolls to about 12 people. In a statement, Waller Capital chairman John Waller III said that as new private-equity money begins to move back into cable, a new wave of consolidation is expected.

"After a lull in deal activity in 2002, we are now seeing renewed interest from both strategic and financial buyers, particularly in the cable TV sector. Both Ian and Andrew have extensive experience in the media and telecom space and their addition better positions Waller Capital to play a major role in the continued consolidation in these sectors," Waller said.

While Waller sees more deals happening soon, another long-time cable investment bank, Denver's Daniels & Associates, is a little more conservative.

"I wouldn't be overly optimistic," Daniels president Brian Deevy said, adding that although Daniels has always made a lot of money on transactions, finding cable system deals has become increasingly harder.

Daniels ups pair

"There are a lot of small deals, capital deals going on and we're still getting a lot of them done," Deevy said. "But I don't want anyone to think that it's getting any easier."

Deevy estimated that Daniels completed about 129 deals in the past two years.

"We've done deals in the cellular business, the Internet business and the broadcast business," Deevy said. "We were quick to broaden ourselves into all of communications."

Daniels recently promoted two executives — Bill Fowler and Craig Moseley — to executive vice president. Fowler has been with Daniels for about six years and has served as chief financial officer. Fowler will continue his CFO duties and will assume additional responsibility in human resources and administration.

Moseley joined Daniels in 1993 and was a founding member of the Denver firm's Internet Technology Group. In his new role, Moseley will be in charge of the Internet unit.