TPG Capital Puts Up $2.25B for RCN and Grande Communications

It's official: Private equity fund TPG Capital announced Monday it will buy RCN Telecommunications and Grande Communications for $2.25 billion.

TPG is acquiring them via separate transactions – from ABRY Partners for $1.6 billion and $640 million, respectively, and plans to combine those assets to create a top ten U.S. cable operator.

Additionally, TPG said it’s partnering with Patriot Media, a management team headed by Steve Simmons and Jim Holanda that have managed RCN and Grande since 2013.

Under that partnership, Patriot Media “will continue to make significant investments in the network and in technology that will enable RCN and Grande to expand Gigabit per second high-speed data services, creating the premier internet experience in their markets,” they said. 

TPG said the deal expands on its strategy of identifying and partnering with companies at the forefront of thriving and evolving industries, citing investments in sports and entertainment intermediary CAA; Cirque du Soleil; online education platform; Spotify; Univision; Airbnb, Ipsy, RentPath, and Uber.

TPG and ABRY expect to close the deal in Q1 2017.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the deal would be announced as soon as Monday.

RCN and Grande, operators that have both leaned on TiVo-powered video platforms, together serve Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Lehigh Valley and other areas of Pennsylvania; New York; San Antonio; and Washington, DC.

TPG was advised on the deal by PJT Partners, UBS, Cleary Gottlieb, and Deloitte. ABRY, Patriot Media, RCN, and Grande were advised by Credit Suisse, Kirkland & Ellis, Locke Lord and PwC.

Update: “We believe that Grande has been on the market for some time, and that as part of the process TPG convinced Abry to sell RCN as well, JP Morgan’s Philip Cusuick and Eric Pan said in a note issued Monday, citing SNL Kagan data that RCN has about 289,000 video subs, alongside Grande’s 88,000.

They said the sale price of $2.25 billion compares to the 2015 EBITDA of $192 million at RCN and $76 million at Grande, and believe that the deal is about 8.25x TTM EBITDA.

“While this is substantially lower than the 8.8x EBITDA that Altice paid for Cablevision or 9.1x that Charter paid for TWC, RCN is also a cable overbuilder so likely has fewer potential buyers,” they said, adding that they don’t believe TPG expects much  by way of synergies in the deal. 

“Given RCN’s presence in the New York area and Grande’s in Texas we would expect that Altice/Cablevision (New York overlap) and Charter (New York and Texas overlap) were not likely to be bidders,” they added.