Simmons Eyes Bid for Adelphia


Patriot Media & Communications chairman and CEO Steve Simmons confirmed published reports that he intends to be one of the bidders in the upcoming auction of Adelphia Communications Corp., and he has his sights set on 400,000-1 million subscribers.

Adelphia, which has about 5.4 million subscribers, expects to begin the auction process for its systems after Sept. 6. The properties are expected to attract between $17 billion and $20 billion.

Simmons, a long-time cable executive, purchased about 80,000 subscribers in Princeton, N.J., from RCN Corp. last year for about $245 million.

“We’re going to actively pursue buying a piece of Adelphia,” Simmons said in an interview. “We are geared up to do bidding on Adelphia. It’s more than just a passing interest.”

Simmons was named along with Cequel III CEO Jerry Kent and Bresnan Communications CEO Bill Bresnan as possible bidders for Adelphia in a story in The Wall Street Journal Monday.

Adelphia’s intention to sell off its properties in smaller chunks — along with bigger blocks in Los Angeles and Florida — has given smaller operators an opportunity to get involved in the auction.

Simmons would not comment on what price the smaller Adelphia clusters would attract.

“We don’t know what the blocks will be yet,” Simmons said. “We’re nowhere near that point of setting a price.”

Patriot’s financial backer — Boston-based private equity firm Spectrum Equity Investors — has the financial muscle to do a large deal, about $6.5 billion in assets under management.

“We’re not able to buy the whole thing — we don’t have the financing to do that,” Simmons said. “But we certainly have the financing to buy anywhere from 400,000 to 1 million subscribers,” Simmons said.

And that won’t be limited just to properties in the New Jersey area, he said.

“Their geographic proximity to our systems in New Jersey doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” Simmons said of the potential Adelphia systems.

Cequel III spokesman Peter Abel would not comment on a possible Adelphia bid, but said the company would be interested in any cable deal that comes on the market.

Bresnan spokeswoman Maureen Huff declined to comment on Adelphia.

“We are always looking to grow where it makes financial sense,” Huff said.