Grande buyer raising funds

Grande Communications, the Texas triple-play provider that has been openly for sale for more than a year, is expecting an acquisition offer soon if its would-be buyer can secure the financing.

In a regulatory filing yesterday, the company sought to squash rumors that it was raising money itself to fund a deal, insisting it was not “shopping a credit facility” to back a deal but acknowledging “third-party efforts to finance a possible offer to purchase the company.”

For weeks, multiple sources have reported that private equity firm Abry Partners was in talks to acquire Grande. However, one industry source told Telephony today, “I think that many tires have been kicked, but I don’t know if there’s anything there.”

The nine-year-old cable overbuilder owns a hybrid fiber/coax network that, at the end of last year, passed more than 340,000 Texas homes and served more than 146,000 customers with an equal mix of voice, video and data services. The network covers parts of Austin, San Marcos, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, suburban Dallas, Midland, Odessa and Waco.

The company reported more than $205 million in revenue last year and a net loss exceeding $50 million. It claimed more than $277 million in total assets.

Grande was initially funded at the height of the telecom bubble with $232 million in equity investment. By 2003 that figure was boosted to $338 million with the help of private stock placements, and a stock-based 2002 merger with ClearSource left the company with more than $509 million in invested equity.

Ten-year-old Abry has previously invested in such telecom firms as Atlantic Broadband, WideOpenWest, Country Road Communications (acquired by Otelco last year) and Integra Telecom.

(Full disclosure: Abry also held a stake in Penton Media, which owns Telephony, from 2002 to 2007.)

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