It is ironic, the whole world sat on its haunches as Adelphia Communications saw itself whither away under bankruptcy protection. Now it seems everyone wants a piece of the fifth largest cable provider. There are two camps emerging in the battle for Adelphia: Time Warner- Comcast on one side, and a bunch of carpet baggers like Thomas H. Lee Partners; Providence Equity Partners; and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
The New York Times thinks that this could be “the largest leveraged buyout since the landmark takeover of RJR Nabisco in 1989, The New York Times reported. The possibility of such a bid, which would probably require raising some $18 billion or more, is a surprising twist in a closely watched auction of cable assets that serve 5.4 million subscribers nationwide.” Adelphia’s creditors recently proposed that the company is worth at least $17 billion. If the private money consortium ends up The Times says that Adelphia’s management team, led by William T. Schleyer, who formerly ran AT&T’s cable business, will lead the buyout.
The firms expect that they would have to raise at least $6 billion in equity and $12 billion in debt. Some of that debt, $2 billion to $4 billion, would probably be in the form of a bridge loan, the executives said, which would allow the firms to buy Adelphia and quickly sell some small pieces of it.
Of course there are a lot of questions. For instance, TW and Comcast could go to war over Adelphia, with help from former bidder, The Blackstone Group. They have more firepower than the private equity groups. I think they are all overlooking the high cost of making over this ailing-creaking patch work cable system, which hasn’t kept up with rivals technologically. It is a great opportunity for those who sell picks and shovels – i.e. equipment and software vendors. Stay tuned for this will surely get ugly.