There has been a swirl of deals in the cable industry, as well as some plain old craziness in the form of a family-feud board shake-up at Cablevision
The latest deal is the going-private transaction for Insight Communications
Insight Communications operates via a 50-50 alliance with cable giant Comcast
Its founders, Sidney Knafel and Michael Willner, have teamed up with private equity group Carlyle Group for a deal at $10.70 a share. It represents a puny premium of 11%. However, the stock price shot to $11.75.
With Insight Communications "in play," investors think other bidders may come to the table. Or that there will be pressure to boost the current offer. After all, the law firm Wolf Popper LLP immediately filed a shareholder suit on the grounds that the current offer is too thrifty.
There is always an inherent conflict of interest when management engages in a going-private transaction. That is, it wants to get the company cheaply, whereas the owners, or shareholders, want just the opposite from the deal.
With changes in technology and new competition, there has been a reduction in values in the cable industry. For example, carriers, such as Verizon
Of course, there are drawbacks in being a public company. For example, Wall Street tends to fixate on short-term performance. What's more, Sarbanes-Oxley has significantly increased costs.
But there appears to be something else driving the deal activity: private equity firms. Early this morning, TheWall Street Journal reported that it appears that Cox Communications is exploring the sale of four of its cable systems. The bidders are, yes, private equity firms.
With dollars bulging in their coffers -- as well as recent lucrative cash-outs -- private equity firms are looking for new prey. In fact, cable companies provide the necessary requirement for private equity transactions -- that is, reliable cash flows.
Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article.