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Canada's Shaw Communications is paying $830 million and will assume $370 million in debt to acquire US data center operator ViaWest.

Shaw Comms to Buy ViaWest For $1.2B

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CALGARY, Canada, and Denver, Colo. -- Shaw Communications Inc. (“Shaw”) and ViaWest, Inc. (“ViaWest” or “the Company”) announced an agreement under which Shaw will acquire a 100% interest in ViaWest from Oak Hill Capital Partners (“Oak Hill”) and other shareholders for an enterprise value of US$1.2 billion.

Based in Denver, ViaWest is one of the largest privately held and most respected providers of data centre infrastructure, cloud technology and managed IT solutions in North America. ViaWest employs over 350 people and services more than 1,300 customers across seven states. The Company has a strong record of financial growth with a 15 percent compounded annual growth rate (“CAGR”) of revenue and EBITDA between 2010 and 2013 generated by recurring revenue from long-term contracts and industry-leading customer retention. Over the last decade, ViaWest has grown from five data centres in two markets to 27 data centres (with over 630,000 square feet of usable raised floor space) in eight key Western U.S. markets, including Denver, Dallas, Austin, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Portland, Minneapolis and Phoenix. ViaWest has significant growth prospects, with 70% utilization in its existing facilities and substantial expansion capacity at its new state-of-the-art Denver, Las Vegas and Minneapolis properties.

“The ViaWest acquisition provides Shaw a growth platform in the attractive data centre sector and is another significant step in expanding our technology offerings for mid-market enterprises in Western Canada, building on the growth from our 2013 Envision acquisition,” said Chief Executive Officer, Brad Shaw. “We identified the data centre sector as an attractive opportunity adjacent to our core business and with the acquisition of ViaWest, Shaw gains significant capabilities, scale and immediate expertise in the growing marketplace for enterprise data services. We plan to leverage the ViaWest management team’s experience to accelerate the development of our Canadian data centre platform so that over time our Western Canadian customers will gain access to this industry-leading expertise for their own data management needs and scalable cloud solutions.”

The current management team, led by Co-Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer Nancy Phillips, will continue to operate ViaWest from its Denver headquarters as a stand-alone wholly-owned subsidiary of Shaw, building upon its track record of profitable growth.

“This is an excellent strategic development for ViaWest, our employees and our customers,” said Ms. Phillips. “With Shaw’s long-term commitment, we will have the stability and shared entrepreneurial culture to enter into a new phase of growth and meet the expanding technology needs of mid-market enterprises, while maintaining our commitment to exceptional customer service.”

“We recognize and value the expertise and experience that the ViaWest team has in this industry, and we look forward to supporting them as they pursue their long-term growth strategy,” Mr. Shaw added. “With significant growth in IP traffic, bandwidth intensive applications and IT outsourcing, demand for ViaWest’s services is growing rapidly. This acquisition enables Shaw to leverage this best-in-class expertise and positions us at the forefront of this significant market opportunity.”

The acquisition is expected to close in September 2014 and is subject to U.S. regulatory approval. The purchase price of US$1.2 billion represents a multiple of approximately 13X adjusted EBITDA annualized for the three months ended June 30, 2014. The transaction will be funded using a combination of cash on hand and Shaw’s existing credit facility and will have no material effect on Shaw’s free cash flow. Considering Shaw’s cash flow and the acquisition of ViaWest, Shaw’s Board confirms its previously disclosed target dividend increase of 5% to 10% in fiscal 2015.

Under the terms of the agreement, majority investor Oak Hill, along with GI Partners and the Company’s other current shareholders, will sell their interests in ViaWest to Shaw. “ViaWest has established a leading position in Infrastructure-as-a-Service, and we believe that Shaw is a great fit for its dynamic management team and a solid partner to support the next stages of its growth plan. We thank co-founders Nancy Phillips and Chairman Roy Dimoff, and the entire ViaWest team for their dedication and performance,” said David Scott, Principal of Oak Hill Capital Partners.

Shaw Communications Inc.
ViaWest Inc.

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