Rifkin & Associates Inc.'s subscriber count will
swell to around 550,000 from its current level of 320,000 as pending deals play out over
the next several months, new CEO Kevin B. Allen said last week.
Allen, the former banker who has run Rifkin's
mergers-and-acquisitions arm for the last year-and-a-half, was named CEO April 10. Founder
Monroe Rifkin shed that title and the day-to-day management of the company, but he remains
chairman, and he will provide strategic direction.
Allen also becomes vice chairman. Jeffrey Bennis remains
president and chief operating officer, overseeing the cable systems.
Rifkin is definitely among the MSOs that are looking to
grow, Allen said. Otherwise, there would have been little point in hiring him in August
1996, he added.
"Clearly, growth is at the top of the list" of
the company's priorities, according to Allen. In the works is one deal, slated to
close by the end of May, that should add about 145,000 subscribers under Rifkin
management. Another deal that Allen hoped to sign last week would add 80,000 subscribers.
Like other Rifkin cable holdings, the new systems will be
held in partnerships that Rifkin manages and partly owns.
"We have raised quite a bit of new equity dollars, in
terms of commitments," for a new acquisition vehicle called Interlink Communications
Partners, Allen said.
Over the next three to five months, Interlink should end up
controlling about 180,000 subscribers. A "subsidiary partnership" of
Interlink's should end up with some 100,000 subscribers, he said, and the existing
Rifkin Acquisition Partners will have around 200,000 subscribers. Rifkin has actually
simplified its partnership structure, winnowing about 14 partnerships down to five, Allen
Data services will play a growing role in generating
revenue for returns on those investments, according to Allen, who was vice president of
corporate finance at BT Securities Corp. before coming to Rifkin. For example, the
MSO's 4,000-subscriber system in Bedford, Va., has produced "very
encouraging" data-services results, especially considering that the system is so
"We're producing significant positive cash flow
in that system already, and it's only six months into the business," Allen said.
Rifkin also plans a digital-television trial in Tennessee
this summer, which would be extended beyond that market if it performs well.