(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) May 02--BendBroadband, an Internet and cable TV company serving Central Oregon, said this week that it will sell its business for $261 million to Chicago-based Telephone and Data Systems, the parent company of TDS Telecom.
It's among the biggest deals for an Oregon-based company in several years. TDS said it will retain BendBroadband's name and its 280 employees, and that customers should expect no changes "for the foreseeable future."
BendBroadband is the local cable company serving Bend and surrounding communities, including Redmond, Sunriver, Prineville, Madras and Sisters.
With roots dating to a cable TV provider established in 1955, known then as Bend TV Cable, capturing TV signals that made it across the Cascades and distributing them around the Bend area. BendBroadband began offering Internet service in the region in 1997.
It now also operates a data center as well and has a sister company called Zolo Media, which owns a CBS and ABC affiliate in Central Oregon and hosts a regional advertising network.
All are included in the deal.
Privately held BendBroadband said its 2013 revenue totaled $70 million. It has 36,000 cable TV subscribers, 41,000 Internet subscribers and 22,000 phone customers. The Tykeson family has owned the company since the early 1980s.
TDS Telecom said the deal will help it improve its cable TV business, and BendBroadband said it needed a bigger partner to keep up with the rapidly changing market.
"While BendBroadband has made many smart investments, it is clear that we will need to join forces with a like-minded company to gain the scale necessary to provide the cutting-edge technology and personalized customer experiences that consumers expect," the company wrote on its website.
The cable industry is in a prolonged period of consolidation, with carriers combining to improve their scale and negotiating power with TV networks.
The nation's largest cable TV company, Comcast, is trying to acquire the second largest, Time Warner Cable, a contentious deal that has drawn scrutiny from regulators and objections from members of Congress.
If that deal goes through, Comcast said this week it has a separate arrangement to take over cable TV service in Oregon communities now served by Charter Communications. That includes Roseburg, The Dalles, Bandon, Cottage Grove, Lincoln City, Astoria, Cannon Beach, Medford and Ashland.
TDS' cable TV business is concentrated in the southwest U.S. It acquired Baja Broadband last summer, and serves Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.
TDS' parent, which owns 84 percent of U.S. Cellular, reported $4.8 billion in revenue last year, and profits of $1.4 billion.
TDS shares were down 29 cents Friday morning at $27.21. The stock has traded between $21.30 and $31.52 in the past year.
Note: This article has been updated with additional information about the deal and BendBroadband's history.
-- Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; 503-294-7699
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