Former Avalon Equity Partners principal David Unger has joined Knight Libertas, a subsidiary of Jersey City, N.J. -based boutique investment house Knight Capital Group, as managing director, corporate finance.
The news comes as Avalon, which had mainly had investments in alternative newspapers after backing away from the cable business several years ago (it still has a minor interest in US Cable's Paramus, N.J., cable system), moves toward a full liquidation headed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Unger, a former Communications Equity Associates executive with more than 30 years experience in the media industry, formed Avalon in 1999 with former ABRY Partners executive Benjamin Brandes. The fund invested in several cable properties - the most famous being Cable Michigan, which it sold to Charter Communications in 1999 for $845 million, less than a year after purchasing it for $435 million.
According to reports, Avalon had borrowed about $38 million over the years and used some of those funds to purchase several alternative weeklies - it is the majority owner of Window Media, owner of gay newspapers the Washington Blade, the Southern Voice and the South Florida Blade. But the SBA took control of the company last August when the value of its investments fell below a required capital threshold, as newspaper revenue suffered through the recession and some investors pulled their money from the fund.
At Knight, Unger will report to Corporate Finance head Les Levi and focus on media and communications investments. Publicly traded Knight has a market capitalization of about $1.6 billion and has a wide range of investments.
In an interview, Unger said his role will be finding media investments for Knight, including companies in the radio, television and cable industries.
Although the deal market has been hampered by the current economic recession, Unger said recent bond market and equity transactions are encouraging.
"There are signs that things are going to get better," Unger said.
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