Overbuilder Altrio Could Sell Soon


Southern California overbuilder Altrio Communications Inc. could be sold by the end of February, according to CEO David Rozzelle.

Earlier this month, Altrio received “five qualified offers” from companies which expressed interest in continuing to offer bundled services to Altrio's base in Pasadena, Calif. That field of potential buyers has been narrowed to one, Rozzelle said.

“We're currently negotiating the fine points,” he said.

Rozzelle would not disclose how many customers the closely held company currently serves, or the number of homes Altrio plant passes.

The company, which delivers phone, Internet and video service, ran out of money late last year and stopped adding new customers or building out its suburban franchises. In addition to Pasadena, the company has franchises to build in Arcadia, Monrovia, Temple City, Sierra Madre, Altadena and one franchise area in the city of Los Angeles.

Altrio launched in 2002 with $180 million in venture capital in hopes of building a system passing 427,000 homes with a fiber-to-the-home architecture.

Rozzelle would not identify the potential buyer, other than saying it is not a “traditional” cable company like Altrio's direct competitors. Altrio has overbuilt Charter Communications Inc. systems and has franchises to also overbuild Adelphia Communications Corp. systems.

Asked if this would be a distressed sale, Rozzelle said, “There's no question about that.” But the offers would allow the company to continue to operate, serve its customers and build out, he said.

Should a buyer be selected, the new owner would have to receive transfer approval from the local franchisors.