Shares in WideOpenWest were up as much as 17% in early trading Monday after reports surfaced that the company was in talks with Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners to be acquired.
WOW stock was priced as high as $21.69 per share (up 17% or $3.20 each) in early trading May 13. The stock was trading at $20.85 each before mid-day, up 13% or $2.36 each. This is the second time in about a month that WOW shares have risen in the double-digits — in April, the stock rose 12% after speculation arose that it had hired advisers to seek a possible buyer.
According to Bloomberg News, citing unnamed sources, WOW and Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners, the private-equity infrastructure investment arm of the investment banker, have entered into exclusive talks. The Morgan Stanley unit is not a total stranger to the U.S. telecom business — in 2020 it purchased a 49.99% interest in Altice USA’s Lightpath fiber enterprise business in a deal with an implied enterprise value of about $3.2 billion.
Officials at WOW declined comment. Representatives from Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
WOW is coming off the sale of five of its markets for a combined $1.786 billion to Astound Broadband and Breezeline (formerly Atlantic Broadband) and recently unveiled plans to beef up fiber network deployment and launch a wireless offering. Earlier this month the company said it would spend about $400 million on greenfield expansion of its fiber network through 2027.
On a conference call with analysts to discuss its Q1 results on May 9, WOW said it would launch its mobile service — via a partnership with Reach Mobile — in one of its southern markets later this month, followed by an enterprise-wide launch in Q3. ■
Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.
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