Overbuilder Altrio Wants to Cash Out - Multichannel

Overbuilder Altrio Wants to Cash Out

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Altrio Communications Inc., the competitive bundled-services provider currently building plant in the Los Angeles suburbs, has told regulators that it won't accept new customers and is trying to sell its operations.

The overbuilder obtained its first franchise in Arcadia, Calif., in 2001 and reportedly is nearly done with the plant there and in neighboring Monrovia, Calif.

But late last week, Altrio told city officials it has had trouble finding new investment funds.

Its systems compete with Charter Communications Inc. and Adelphia Communications Corp.

"We are disappointed in taking this action, but the capital markets have been difficult," Altrio CEO David Rozzelle, a former InterMedia Partners executive, said Monday.

Altrio could not attract the necessary capital to continue to grow the company, he added.

Altrio - which doesn't disclose subscriber figures - launched with the hopes of passing 427,000 homes in a cluster extending from the eastern edge of Los Angeles city, along the San Bernardino foothills.

In addition to Arcadia and Monrovia, it has franchises in Pasadena, Temple City, Sierra Madre, Altadena and Los Angeles.

Early in 2002 it announced it had raised $180 million in financing.

Its Web site (www.altrio.net) lists Frontenac Co., Bessemer Holdings, Soros Private Equity Partners, SSB Capital Partners, Royal Bank Capital Partners-Telecom Fund and Grove Street Advisors as investors.

According to Altrio's business plan, the initial investment was to launch construction and the buildout to be funded by revenue from early customers.

Altrio cut all but 35 of its employees in October.

Rozzelle said service will continue to all current video, high-speed data and telephony customers.

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