With cable stocks trading higher than they have in several years and the resurgence of the deal market, cable operators and programmers are increasingly finding that the best use of their hard earned cash isn’t necessarily buying their own shares any more, but in deal-making.
And that means boom times for cable investment bankers. The list below provides a snapshot of some of the top performers in the space, but it is neither a ranking (all honorees are listed alphabetically), nor is it comprehensive.
And perform they have. The bankers on the 2013 Money All-Stars list have worked on mega deals like Comcast’s purchase of AT&T Broadband, Time Warner Cable’s separation from Time Warner Inc. and Charter Communications’ reorganization, to name a few.
It’s been a busy year. In just the past month Comcast agreed to purchase the remaining half of the NBCUniversal partnership from General Electric two years early for $16 billion; and Charter Communications agreed to purchase Optimum West (the former Bresnan Communications) from Cablevision Systems for $1.6 billion. Increasingly, smaller companies are demanding big valuations — Suddenlink Communications, which has about 14 million customers in mostly secondary markets across the country, inked a deal in November that brought in $2 billion in new equity and valued the company at $6 billion.
In October Wave Broadband, with about 385,000 video, voice and data customers in the Northwest, completed a buyout that brought in about $1 billion in new capital. Even tinier operators are testing the deal waters — New Wave Communications recently sold its remaining 90,000 customers to a group of private-equity players for an estimated $300 million. Last year, it sold 70,000 customers to Time Warner Cable for $260 million. And New Wave’s former owners, the Gleason family, plan to keep looking for cable systems to buy and fix.
Bill Bundy, managing director, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Investment Banking for Wells Fargo Securities, said 2013 will be another active year for cable deals. “Access to low-cost, flexible capital from multiple sources will drive investment in growth through consolidation plays, as well as the addition of new services for residential and business customers,” Bundy said. “At a minimum, companies will take advantage of a favorable market environment to further optimize their capital structures and boost shareholder returns.”
Whatever the climate, chances are that any cable operator looking to buy sell or raise money in the sector will run into at least one of the Multichannel News 2013 Money All-Stars.
Title: Managing Director, Morgan Stanley
Background: Baker covers the U.S. cable sector for Morgan Stanley, a firm he joined in 2004 from Credit Suisse. Baker started his career with DLJ in 2000. He received his bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross and his MBA from the University of Chicago. Baker also is a certified public accountant.
Notable Cable Deals: Last year Baker’s team advised WideOpenWest on its acquisition of Knology Holdings, and in the past, he has advised Time Warner Cable on its separation from Time Warner Inc. and Cablevision Systems’ Special Committee on the Dolan family’s attempts to take the company private.
Outlook for 2013: “I am bullish about the near- and long-term prospects of the U.S. cable industry, given the strong competitive advantages that it has relative to its competitors.”
Title: Managing Director, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Investment Banking, Wells Fargo Securities
Background: Bundy leads investment banking coverage of the U.S. cable, Internet- infrastructure and wireless tower sectors, as well as certain diversified media companies. He joined Wells Fargo Securities in 2007 after a 16-year career at JP Morgan, where he advised media and communications clients on M&A and capital-raising transactions. Bundy earned his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College and his MBA at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Notable Cable Deals: Cox Enterprises’ formation of a wireless-tower partnership with InSite Wireless; the sale of TowerCo’s assets to SBA Communications; Web.com’s acquisition of Network Solutions; Cox Communications’ divestiture of cable systems to Cebridge Connections; Comcast’s acquisition of AT&T Broadband; as well as leading a range of financing transactions for AutoTrader.com, Comcast, Cox Communications, Mediacom Communications, WaveDivision and QVC, among others.
Outlook for 2013: “2013 will be an active year across the cable, media and business services landscape. Access to low-cost, flexible capital from multiple sources will drive investment in growth through consolidation plays, as well as the addition of new services for residential and business customers. At a minimum, companies will take advantage of a favorable market environment to further optimize their capital structures and boost shareholder returns.”
Title: Senior Managing Director and Global Head, Media and Entertainment Group, Blackstone Advisory Partners
Background: Prior to joining Blackstone, Cohen was a managing director in the Media Investment Banking group at JP Morgan. He received a bachelor’s degree with distinction in history from the University of Rochester and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Notable Cable Deals: Recently, Cohen led the $2.15 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which broke all records for the sale of a sports franchise. He also advised Martha Stuart Living Omnimedia on its recent sale of a stake in the company to J.C. Penney, Lee Enterprises on its $1 billion restructuring and The New Republic on its sale to Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook. While at JP Morgan, Cohen participated in many of the most noteworthy M&A and financing transactions in the media sector, including advising Advance/ Newhouse Communications on restructuring its investment in Discovery Communications and Tribune Co. on the sale of the Chicago Cubs .
Title: Managing Director, Media & Communications, Deutsche Bank
Background: Gordon joined Deutsche Bank in late 2010 from Goldman Sachs, and is responsible for clients in the pay TV, media and entertainment sectors. Gordon has more than 13 years of domestic and international investment banking experience advising and financing clients in the media and communications sectors, across a broad range of media verticals including cable distribution, Internet infrastructure and content delivery, cable networks, filmed, kids and general entertainment, sports businesses and theme parks. Educated first in South Africa and qualified as a chartered accountant, Gordon also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Notable Cable Deals: Liberty Global’s acquisition of Cablecom, the sale of SunCom Wireless to Deutsche Telecom, the merger of Intermedia Partners with Azteca to form Hemisphere Media, the sale of Savings.com to Cox Target Media, the sale of HIT to Apax, the acquisition of Busch Entertainment by Blackstone and the sale of VMtv to British Sky Broadcasting.
Outlook for 2013: “The profound change in audience consumption of entertainment — how, where and when — and emergence of technologies and players to exploit these dynamics has reached a stage where economics of the ecosystem are evolving with new players creating different paradigms in content and distribution.”
Title: Managing Director, MESA Global
Background: Josephs joined MESA, a boutique investment bank focused on advisory and financing opportunities solely in the media and entertainment industries, in 2008 after 10 years of traditional bulge-bracket banking at Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse. Josephs has successfully leveraged relationships and experiences with large cap clients to create opportunities for current and prospective early/growth-stage clients. Today, he is focused on a broad range of sectors including cable networks, interactive TV, alternative advertising, sports and digital media. He earned a bachelor in business administration from the University of Michigan.
Notable Cable Deals: Advisory and private-placement transactions across the digital and traditional landscape, including Access360Media, Autoskill and TAKKLE, while at MESA. Previously, he completed transactions for clients including Intelsat, Univision, WideOpenWest, Cablevision, Liberty Media, Atlantic Broadband, Cox Communications, Canal Plus, Thomson and Warner Music Group.
Title: Managing Director/Co-Head of TMT Leveraged Finance, BofA Merrill Lynch
Background: Kelly has been at BofA Merrill Lynch his entire career, having spent the last 15 years in leveraged finance. He has covered the technology, media and telecom space exclusively during that time, and has led financings for almost every major North American cable and pay TV company, as well as for a number of European issuers. In 2012, he originated more than $8 billion of TMT leveraged finance transactions in which BofA Merrill served as lead-left bookrunner, a substantial amount of which was for cable issuers.
Notable Cable Deals: In 2012, Kelly served as lead-left bookrunner for $1.6 billion of high-yield offerings for Quebecor Media/Vidéotron, each of Charter’s $750 million term loan deals, Virgin Media’s $500 million high yield offering, Mediacom Communications’ $250 million high-yield offering, BCI’s $250 million high-yield offering and numerous other transactions.
Outlook for 2013: “Cable continues to be one of the most in-demand sectors for investors in the leveraged finance markets. With valuations rising and increasing M&A activity in the industry, the outlook for cable issuers in the debt markets will continue to be bright and most will have strong access to capital at attractive terms. A large amount of refinancing activity has already occurred to take advantage of favorable coupons, and we expect the sector will continue to be active as issuers continue to optimize and extend the maturity profile of their balance sheets. We will likely see more acquisition financing as well.”
Title: Senior Partner, Apollo Global Management
Background: Parker joined Apollo in 2000 and oversees the firm’s efforts in cable, telecom and technology, as well as transportation. He previously served in Salomon Smith Barney’s Financial Entrepreneurs Group within the Investment Banking Division. He currently serves on the boards of Affinion Group, CEVA Logistics, Charter Communications and Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings. Parker is also a member of the board of managers of Momentive Performance Materials Holdings, and previously served on the boards of AMC Entertainment and United Agri Products. He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
Notable Cable Deals: Reorganization of Charter, Charter’s purchase of Optimum West from Cablevision Systems.
Outlook for 2013: “With the cost of capital coming down and opportunities increasing, it feels like the right environment for further consolidation.”
Title: Managing Partner, LionTree LLC
Background: Stenzler is the managing partner of LionTree, an independent investment bank formed in mid-2012. Stenzler co-founded the firm with CEO Aryeh B. Bourkoff . Previously, Stenzler spent 10 years at UBS Investment Bank, where he was most recently co-head of U.S. mergers and acquisitions. Before that, he was head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications M&A.
Notable Cable Deals: Recently at LionTree, Liberty Global’s $23.3 billion acquisition of Virgin Media. Other relevant advisory transactions have included the $3 billion sale of Insight Communications to Time Warner Cable; the $1.4 billion sale of Bresnan Communications to Cablevision Systems; Comcast’s $37.25 billion joint venture with General Electric for NBCUniversal; the $5.3 billion sale of Unity Media to Liberty Global; the $17.6 billion sale of Adelphia Communications to Time Warner Cable and Comcast; the $483 million sale of Patriot Media to Comcast; and the $500 million deal in which NBCUniversal, CBS and Robert Redford sold Sundance Channel to Cablevision Systems.
Title: Vice Chairman of Global M&A, Credit Suisse
Background: John Trousdale is a vice chairman of Credit Suisse’s Global M&A Group and global head of Media & Telecom M&A. He was previously co-head of Credit Suisse’s Media & Telecom Group from 2005 to 2009. John joined Credit Suisse in 2003 from Merrill Lynch, where he spent 14 years.
Notable Cable Deals During the last year, Trousdale has advised on numerous cable mergers-and-acquisitions transactions, including Charter Communications’ pending acquisition of Cablevision’s Optimum West; Liberty Global’s pending acquisition of Virgin Media; BC Partners and CPP’s acquisition of Suddenlink Communications; Atlantic Broadband’s sale to Cogeco; and Knology’s sale to WideOpenWest.
Horace J. Zona III
Title: Managing Director and Group Head of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey’s Media & Communications Investment Banking practice
Background: Zona joined SunTrust in 2008 and has led the development and expansion of an M&C practice that today is comprised of more than 40 dedicated professionals and more than 100 clients. STRH’s M&C practice delivers advisory and capital-raising solutions for clients across the communications, Internet infrastructure, media and digital media sectors. The team has offices in Atlanta; Charlott e, N.C.; and San Francisco.
Zona began his career in the M&C space in 1993 while at TD Securities; he subsequently assumed leadership positions in the M&C investment-banking practices of both First Union Securities and Wachovia Securities. He previously held positions at Kidder, Peabody and UBS Securities. He is a graduate of Boston College and holds a bachelor’s degree in economics.
Notable Cable Deals: WideOpenWest’s acquisition of Knology; Harron Communications’ redemption of Boston Ventures’ minority stake, financed with its inaugural bond deal; left -lead on inaugural $500 million bond deal for Liberty Media’s Starz unit, as well as the recent $175 million reopening, both of which set new benchmarks for yield. Zona also advised NewWave on its purchase of Avenue Broadband and ABRY Partners on the take-private transaction for RCN, as well as subsequent financings of Sidera and RCN . He held leadership roles in recapitalization transactions for WaveDivision, MidContinent Communications, Choice, RCN, Grande Communications and Suddenlink Communications, among others.