Consolidated Communications Inc. has struck a deal to acquire SureWest Communications for US$340.9 million in cash and stock, marking a deal that combines two of the nation's Tier 2 service providers. (See Consolidated Snaps Up SureWest.)
Consolidated has agreed to pay $23 per share, a 47 percent premium to SureWest's stock price ($15.59) as of the close on Feb. 3. In conjunction, Morgan Stanley Senior Funding is providing Consolidated with $350 million of committed debt financing, which will be used to refinance SureWest's debt and pay for the cash portion of the purchase price.
Consolidated is looking to acquire SureWest's mix of copper, fiber and hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) systems in the Sacremento, Calif., and Kansas City regions that serve more than 321,700 residential "marketable homes" and 15,700 business customers. SureWest posted third-quarter net income of $643,000, down from $1.4 million year-on-year, on revenues of $63 million, up 3 percent.
Consolidated pipes voice, data and video services primarily to rural pockets of Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas. It ended the third quarter with 446,426 total "connections," including 109,572 DSL subs and 32,981 IPTV customers.
Consolidated said the combined company would have generated about $620 million in revenues for the fiscal year ended Sep. 30, 2011. It estimates that Consolidated and SureWest, an IPTV pioneer, together will have about 1,775 employees.
Why this matters
The merger won't let Consolidated create larger geographic clusters, but it should help the company achieve greater scale and efficiency for its video and broadband services. Consolidated believes the merger will create $25 million in annual operational savings, and yearly capex savings in the range of $5 million to $10 million by the end of the first year after the deal closes. In the meantime, Consolidated expects to incur merger and integration costs of $20 million to $25 million over the first two years after the deal is sealed.
Monday's merger could signal a new era of consolidation among Tier 2 service providers that are looking to generate more scale amid rising fees for video programming.
Check out some recent headlines about SureWest and Consolidated Communications.
â€” Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable