Atlantic Broadband To Acquire Cable Systems –

ABRY Partners platform company Atlantic Broadband LLC will acquire cable systems representing 235,000 subscribers from Charter Communications. The Boston-based company will take over operations based in Miami Beach, Fla.; Altoona, Johnstown and Uniontown, Pa.; and Cumberland, Md.; as well as clusters in Middletown, Del. and Queen Anne’s County, Md. Several other properties are located in West Virginia and New York State.

The Charter acquisition is valued at $765 million and when completed next month, Atlantic Broadband will rank as the 16th-largest cable operator in the country. In addition to ABRY, equity financing was provided by its long-term cable investment partner, Oak Hill Capital Partners LP, in addition to other minority equity investors. Merrill Lynch provided an undisclosed amount of debt.

Charter’s systems are comprised of three operating clusters: Miami Beach, which serves approximately 51,000 subscribers: Western Pennsylvania, which serves approximately 161,000 subscribers; and Maryland-Delaware, which serves approximately 23,000 subscribers.

This is Atlantic’s first add-on acquisition. Blake Battaglia, a vice president with ABRY, wouldn’t speculate on what would happen next. “Our sole focus is operating these systems. Charter has done a good job, but we are going to upgrade the systems,” he said. “I am not going to speculate on our next move, but it is certainly probable that we will eventually focus on picking up systems that are in and around Charter’s, but we are not worrying about that now.”

Instead, Atlantic’s top priority includes the upgrade of the Maryland-Delaware cluster, which will enable the company to offer high-speed data in those systems.

ABRY has more than $2 billion of capital under management and since 1989 has completed more than $7 billion worth of deals in the media and communications industries. ABRY was the principal investor in Avalon Cable, which was sold in 1999 and is currently an investor with Oak Hill in WideOpenWest, the 14th-largest cable operator in the U.S.