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TMCNet:  WaveDivision Holdings Raises $1.052 Billion, Plans to Accelerate Expansion of West Coast Broadband/Fiber Optic Network

[November 15, 2012]

WaveDivision Holdings Raises $1.052 Billion, Plans to Accelerate Expansion of West Coast Broadband/Fiber Optic Network

KIRKLAND, Wash. --(Business Wire)--

WaveDivision Holdings (www.wavebroadband.com), a business-class fiber optic and broadband services company with business and residential customers in Washington, Oregon, and California, today announced that it has raised more than $1 billion in funding, including substantial equity investments from Oak Hill Capital Partners and GI Partners, and new bank and high yield debt financings led by Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo (News - Alert). In addition to recapitalizing the profitable company, the funding will be used to support Wave's continued growth throughout the West Coast.

Since its inception in 2002, Wave has quietly grown its extensive fiber optic and broadband network through more than a dozen acquisitions of existing cable and telecom providers, including select assets from Charter and RCN (News - Alert). The company has also invested several hundred million dollars of capital in new construction to upgrade and expand its facilities in the Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Sacramento markets, becoming one of the largest fiber owners in each of those markets. Wave currently has more than 800 employees and nearly 400,000 business and residential broadband, phone, and video customers. The company is highly focused on accelerating its expansion, especially within its fast-growing Business Solutions division.

Wave operates under the Wave Broadband and Wave Business Solutions brands in the greater Seattle, Portland, and Sacramento markets, and as Astound Broadband and Astound Business Solutions in the greater San Francisco market. Wave provides carrier-class telecommunications, fiber-based wide area networks, co-location facilities and high bandwidth Internet connectivity solutions to large and small businesses, as well as advanced cable TV, true high-speed Internet, and phone services to residential and business customers. This new funding will enable the Kirkland, WA-based company to accelerate its growth in these geographies and additional West Coast markets through acquisitions, construction, strategic hiring, and continued product and technology development.

"This is an exciting milestone for Wave. Throughout the past decade, we've provided our customers with unmatched service and support, exceptional value, and the industry's most innovative broadband products and services," said Steve Weed, Wave CEO. "Customer satisfaction drives everything we do, and we are very pleased to have two highly regarded investment partners in Oak Hill Capital Partners and GI Partners. They both share our belief in this approach, and they are committed to working with us as we expand and improve our fiber optic network in markets that are ideally suited to our strengths."

With the continued rapid adoption of broadband services by both businesses and consumers, Weed and his management team have structured Wave's workforce to empower highly localized teams to provide immediate and responsive on-site service as needs surface. Unlike resellers, Wave's customers benefit from the company's ownership of its own fiber and other infrastructure. This enables Wave to directly control the nature and quality of its infrastructure and services and provide a truly differentiated customer experiene. As a result, Wave appeared on PC Magazine's 2012 list of Top 10 Fastest ISPs in the nation and was recently recognized by CableFAX Magazine with the prestigious Independent Cable Operator of the Year award.

CUSTOMER-FIRST CULTURE, RECENT EXECUTIVE ADDITIONS

Since its inception, and in contrast to companies which relegate customer service centers to distant, off-site markets or uninspired facilities, Wave positioned its 24/7 network operations center (NOC) and its customer service center at the top of its priority chain. Teams are stationed on the top floors of Wave's Kirkland, WA headquarters, with sweeping views of nearby Lake Washington, Seattle, and surrounding areas. As a profitable company, Wave has the flexibility to continuously invest in highly trained personnel and service assets, in both headquarters and localized markets. Wave also has the resources needed to apply its high standards of service and performance across its growing network, especially as it plans to selectively acquire other companies.

Earlier this month, Wave deepened its management team by hiring three cable/broadband service executives and promoting two long-time company leaders to new roles:

  • Patrick Knorr has joined Wave as EVP of IP & Business Services, responsible for managing the company's Business Solutions offerings and IP engineering, including Wave's network operations center. As the former General Manager of Sunflower Broadband, he is recognized as a leader in deployment of advanced IP services, experience that is directly relevant to the high growth potential of Wave's business division. Knorr will join Paul Koss, Wave's SVP of Business Services, to support the company's plans for accelerated expansion.
  • Tim Klinefelter has joined Wave as EVP of Broadband Services, overseeing all regional operations and Radio Frequency (RF) Engineering. Klinefelter is a 35-year veteran of the cable industry who was most recently SVP of Operations for Insight's flagship Louisville system, where he oversaw one of the industry's best success stories, increasing market penetration while improving customer and employee satisfaction in a highly competitive market.
  • Colette Jelineo has been hired as the company's Chief Marketing Officer to oversee Wave's marketing and sales teams. Previously VP of Marketing with Cox (News - Alert) Communications, Jelineo is recognized as one of the cable industry's most effective marketers.
  • Wave's previous Chief Marketing Officer, Arah Peck, is now Wave's EVP of Strategic Development, where she will collaborate with Jelineo and the entire executive team to ensure Wave continues its legacy as a customer-centric organization.
  • In addition, longtime Wave COO Steve Friedman was promoted to the position of President and COO. With more than 28 years of experience owning and operating cable systems, Friedman joined Weed as an investment partner at Wave in 2003, and "the Steve's" have been running the company together for the last nine years.

BANKING CREDITS

In addition to Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank leading the funding, SunTrust, RBC, and Waller Capital also provided key investment services.

About WaveDivision Holdings

WaveDivision Holdings, LLC is a cable and broadband services company providing advanced cable TV, true high-speed Internet and Phone (News - Alert) services to over 395,000 residential and business customers in the communities, and surrounding suburbs, of the Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Sacramento markets. Wave is headquartered in Kirkland, Washington. Owned and operated by local industry leaders, Wave supports its customers with decades of cable know-how. Serving customers under two retail brand names; Wave Broadband in the Seattle, Portland and Sacramento DMAs, and Astound in the San Francisco DMA - the company's mission is to provide all customers with the latest technologies and upgrades. Wave was recently recognized by CableFAX Magazine with the prestigious Independent Cable Operator of the Year award. Wave also debuted on PC Magazine's 2012 list of Top 10 Fastest ISPs in the nation. The company's Business Solutions division delivers redundant fiber rings that serve local governments and businesses of all sizes, including well-known Fortune 100 companies and brands, with major fiber hubs in West Coast markets. For more information about WaveDivision Holdings, visit www.wavebroadband.com or www.astound.net.

About Oak Hill Capital Partners

Oak Hill Capital Partners is a private equity firm with more than $8.2 billion of committed capital from leading entrepreneurs, endowments, foundations, corporations, pension funds and global financial institutions. Robert M. Bass is the lead investor. Over a period of more than 25 years, the professionals at Oak Hill Capital Partners and its predecessors have invested in more than 70 significant private equity transactions. Oak Hill Capital Partners is one of several Oak Hill partnerships, each of which has a dedicated and independent management team. For more information about Oak Hill Capital Partners, visit www.oakhillcapital.com.

About GI Partners

GI Partners, headquartered in Menlo Park, CA (News - Alert), is a private equity firm with approximately $8.5 billion of capital under management from leading institutional investors in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The firm primarily invests in asset-intensive, middle-market businesses and portfolios of assets located in North America. Key sectors of focus include IT infrastructure and services, specialist healthcare, asset-backed leisure and retail, and financial and real estate services. Across all of its investments, GI Partners seeks to identify operating companies with market leading positions and establish a partnership orientation with management to drive value creation and growth. For more information about GI Partners, please visit www.gipartners.com.


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