HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. & CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Hargray Communications (“Hargray” or the “Company”) and The Pritzker Organization, L.L.C. (“TPO”) announced today that an investor group led by TPO and including Stephens Capital Partners, Redwood Capital Investments, and WaveDivision Capital has signed a definitive agreement under which Cable One, Inc. (“Cable One”), currently a minority investor in Hargray, will purchase the remaining interests in Hargray. TPO led the Hargray investment in 2017 and has held a majority stake in the Company and invested in its growth since that time.
Founded in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina, Hargray is the premier broadband communications provider to small cities and large towns throughout South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and northern Florida. The Company has invested significantly to construct fiber-optic broadband networks and to acquire and upgrade smaller providers to create a high-growth broadband communications company that serves 125,000 customers.
Michael Gottdenker, Hargray Chairman and CEO, said, “TPO’s growth-oriented strategic thinking and long-term perspective have proven invaluable over the last four years. From the time we first met, it was clear that their commitment to partnership and collaboration extended well beyond their capital investment. Their insights and perspectives have been critical in helping us realize Hargray’s potential. We were not looking to sell, but one of our strategic partners presented us with an attractive opportunity. We worked with TPO to refine our views, and they and our other investors supported this transaction. I am extremely grateful for the tremendous and unwavering support from TPO as well as Stephens Capital Partners, Redwood Capital Investments, and WaveDivision Capital. Since last year when Cable One contributed its Anniston, Alabama system in exchange for a minority interest in Hargray, it has become even more apparent that both companies have decidedly complementary mindsets, cultures, and core values, which I am confident will enable our colleagues, customers, and communities to continue to thrive with Cable One as our sole owner.”
Joe Gleberman, Managing Director of TPO, said, “We are proud of our partnership with Michael and his team, which has enabled Hargray to advance its purpose of empowering people and communities to connect and thrive. The hallmarks of that partnership include a deep mutual respect between the TPO and Hargray teams and alignment around a clear and successful plan to invest in and grow Hargray for the long term. In every way, this has been a true partnership among management, our co-investors and TPO, and we are excited to watch Hargray continue to grow as part of Cable One. As we have done for many years, we continue to look for founders and leaders of private companies like Michael who are seeking patient long-term capital to grow their businesses.”
“Our acquisition of Hargray reflects a continuation of our commitment to provide rural America with reliable high-speed internet service,” said Julie Laulis, President and CEO of Cable One. “It has been a pleasure to work with Hargray’s investor group led by TPO. Hargray’s regional focus, local values, and ongoing investment in technological advancements and customer care are strikingly like our own. We are excited to welcome our new Hargray colleagues as we work together to achieve future growth and continue to build upon Hargray’s commitment to customer delight.”
Since the beginning of TPO’s investment in 2017, Hargray has accelerated a multi-pronged investment strategy to enhance its network and product offerings to be the highest quality broadband provider in each of its markets. As a result, over the past four years Hargray has nearly doubled its customer base, including delivering enhanced broadband service to underserved markets, and achieved several other critical milestones:
- Strategic separation into two distinct business units, one focused on Hargray’s incumbent markets and one on Hargray’s overbuild markets, to drive increased focus and decentralization
- Continued expansion within its current footprint and entry into two new states (Alabama and Florida) through a combination of eight acquisitions and ongoing organic growth investment
- Over $300 million in network investment to expand into new markets, provide nearly ubiquitous gigabit service across its footprint, and deliver substantial product upgrades
Customers will continue to receive their existing services, but over time can expect Cable One to bring even more advanced services to residents and businesses in Hargray’s communities. Cable One’s purpose is to provide communities the connectivity that enriches their world, and like Hargray focuses on small cities and large towns led by locally based market teams deeply rooted in the communities they serve.
The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.
About Hargray Communications Group, Inc.
Founded in 1947, Hargray is a regional telecommunications company providing advanced Internet, television, and telephone communications services in a growing set of markets in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Hargray is committed to delivering the most advanced technology and the best service for its customers and is active in the communities it serves. It supports a wide range of local charities, organizations, projects and events, including through the company’s Caring Coins Foundation which raises money from customer bills for community organizations. For more information, please visit www.hargray.com.
About The Pritzker Organization, L.L.C.
The Pritzker Organization is the merchant bank for the business interests of the Tom Pritzker family. TPO is focused on partnering with exceptional leaders to create value across a wide range of industries. TPO looks for opportunities where it can create value for our family’s interests and our partners and colleagues over a significant time horizon. For more than 60 years, TPO has overseen and guided the development of dozens of portfolio companies across a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, logistics, life sciences, hospitality, healthcare and services. Notable businesses include Hyatt Hotels, Triton Container and the Marmon Group. Recent control investments include TMS International, Lithko Contracting, KBP Investments, Mammoth Holdings and STV Inc. In addition to its core strategy of building businesses over the long term, TPO is also active in special situations, advising the family’s interests in the deployment of capital across a wide spectrum of industries and across every tier of the balance sheet, from senior debt to equity. Additional information can be found at www.pritzkerorg.com.
About Stephens Capital Partners
Stephens Capital Partners LLC (“SCP”) is the principal investing arm of the Warren A. Stephens family and Stephens Inc. SCP identifies opportunities to work with industry-leading management teams with a long-term perspective. SCP provides public and private companies with capital for purposes of growth, recapitalization, and leveraged buyouts. Stephens Inc. is a full-service investment banking firm headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas serving a broad client base of corporations, state and local governments, financial institutions, institutional and individual investors throughout the United States and overseas. The firm is a member of the New York Stock Exchange and SIPC. For more information, see www.stephens.com.
About Redwood Capital
Redwood Capital Investments is the holding company for Jim Davis, a co-founder of Allegis Group. Redwood operates as a long-term partner for private business owners and management teams. Redwood has a concentrated portfolio of direct investments in operating companies across a diverse range of industries including distribution, automotive retail, equipment leasing and real estate. Redwood focuses on maintaining the legacy and principles of its businesses and helping build the foundations for future growth over a long-term horizon.
About WaveDivision Capital
Founded in 2003 by broadband entrepreneur Steve Weed, WaveDivision Capital (“WDC”), headquartered in Kirkland, WA, is a private investment firm focused on the broadband industry. Steve was founder and CEO of Wave Broadband, and the managing directors of WDC, Harold Zeitz and Wayne Schattenkerk, were formerly the President and CFO, respectively, of Wave Broadband, which grew to one of the largest broadband companies on the West coast, until its multi-billion-dollar sale in 2018. WDC’s goal is to bring better internet connections to more homes and businesses throughout North America. You can learn more about WDC at www.wavedc.com.
About Cable One
Cable One, Inc. (NYSE: CABO) is a leading broadband communications provider serving more than 950,000 residential and business customers in 21 states through its Sparklight® and Clearwave® brands. Sparklight provides consumers with a wide array of connectivity and entertainment services, including high-speed internet and advanced Wi-Fi solutions, cable television and phone service. Sparklight Business and Clearwave provide scalable and cost-effective products for businesses ranging in size from small to mid-market, in addition to enterprise, wholesale and carrier customers.
George Sard/Bryan Locke
Sard Verbinnen & Co.