Callahan Associates Forms Partnership with Canal +

A group of investors brought together by Callahan Associates International (CAI) in September agreed to purchase a 37% holding in Numericable, Canal +’s French cable TV operation via Exante, a vehicle formed for the purpose.

The syndicate funding Exante comprises Capital Communications CDPQ, the communications investment subsidiary of Caisse de Depots et de Placement du Quebec; BancAmerica Equity Partners – Europe; GE Capital Structured Finance Group; and CAG (France), a joint venture between CAI and Angelo Gordon & Co., a New York alternative investments specialist.

Canal + recently relaunched its cable TV business under the new Numericable name with a new range of digital pay television services. The business, whose operations encompass 2 million franchise homes in its domestic market, currently has 60,000 cable customers in 33 towns and cities around France.

Pierre Lescure, president of Canal +, said “The team at Callahan Associates has solid, worldwide experience in the development of cable operations, and their specialist knowledge of this sector will be invaluable in helping execute the most effective strategies for the success of Numericable”.

CAI was founded in early 1997 by Richard Callahan, the former president of US West International, to acquire media-related projects around the world (EVCJ February/March 1997, page 14). Rather than raising a formal fund, the group has assembled a group of financial institutions to fund transactions on a deal-by-deal basis. CAI expects to spearhead equity investments totalling “several billion dollars” over the next five years.