GTCR, a private equity firm, though its GTCR Fund XIII vehicle, today announced that it has made an investment to acquire a 67% ownership interest in Visionary Broadband, an internet service provider (ISP) that is expanding its roll-out of fiber broadband across Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana, in the United States.

Prior to GTCR’s investment, Visionary Broadband’s two largest shareholders were Brian Worthen (CEO), who owned 42.2% and Greg Worthen (Sales Engineering & Business Development), who owned 33.6% of the company. Following consummation of the transaction on June 1, 2022, Visionary Broadband’s key shareholders are now GTCR (67% ownership), Brian Worthen (~13% ownership), and Greg Worthen (~10.8% ownership).

Additionally, Visionary Broadband has entered into a credit agreement with CoBank and Citizens Bank, which have made up to $60m in debt financing available. Of this total, ~$10m was drawn at closing, $5m is available through a revolving credit facility, and $45m is allocated to a delayed draw facility to finance the company’s working capital and fiber build-out.

Visionary Broadband – Overview

Visionary Broadband was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Gillette, Wyoming. The company provides broadband, VoIP, and IP-enabled services to 100+ rural communities in Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana through a combination of its fixed wireless and fiber networks. Within this Rocky Mountain region, Visionary Broadband serves more than 20k residential and business subscribers.

Presently, Visionary Broadband is deploying XGS-PON, a passive optical networking technology capable of delivering speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps). As such, the company is able to offer multi-gigabit fiber-based internet access to its service areas.

To-date, Visionary Broadband has completed fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) projects in Dayton, LaGrange, Ranchester, and Yoder, Wyoming, as well as Kremmling, Colorado.

Fiber Build-Out

Visionary Broadband is actively constructing fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) projects in several markets in its existing footprint. Specifically, the company’s initial fiber builds include communities in:

  • Wyoming: Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette, Lander, Laramie, and Lusk
  • Colorado: Marble, Gunnison, and Walden

Use of Proceeds

GTCR’s equity financing, alongside Visionary Broadband’s new debt package, enables the company to continue investing in the construction of new fiber networks throughout Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana. At the same time, the company will have the financial capacity to match requirements in upcoming State-led grant programs, as well as its obligations tied to the receipt of funding in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).

To this end, Visionary Broadband’s network expansion plans contemplate providing fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband to rural, unserved, and underserved communities.

Management

Visionary Broadband is led by Brian Worthen as CEO, who will continue as CEO of the company post-transaction.

Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) – Support Won

Visionary Broadband’s fiber deployments have the support of grants from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Specifically, in the RDOF Phase I Auction (Auction 904), Visionary Broadband received support of $4.45m, over 10 years. This support was awarded in 4,184 locations, equating to $1,064 of support per location.

State# of LocationsWinning Bid$/Location
Wyoming3,198$4.05m$1,268
Colorado986$0.40m$402
Total4,184$4.45m$1,064

Geographically, the vast majority of Visionary Broadband’s support came in Wyoming ($4.05m), with the remaining support won in Colorado ($400k).

Transaction Advisors – Visionary Broadband, GTCR

Visionary Broadband’s financial advisor was Q Advisors. Additionally, Visionary Broadband’s legal advisor was Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley.

GTCR’s legal advisor was Kirkland & Ellis.

GTCR – Overview

GTCR, a Chicago-based private equity firm, has invested more than $20bn in over 250 companies since inception. Since 2000, GTCR has completed over 30 new platform investments and over 95 add-on acquisitions within the technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) industry. Presently, GTCR’s digital infrastructure and telecommunications investments include:

Digital Infrastructure

  • Clearwave Fiber: operates 4.3k fiber route miles with 15k high-speed data (HSD) customers. GTCR owns a 21% stake in the joint venture, alongside Cable One (58%), Stephens Capital, and the Pritzker Organization
  • Point Broadband: provides fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) services to residential and business customers in 10 states including Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia
  • Mega Broadband: in October 2017, GTCR formed the company alongside Phil Spencer (CEO). Subsequently, the business grew through a series of acquisitions under the Vyve Broadband brand. Finally, in September 2020, GTCR sold a 45% stake in Mega Broadband to Cable One (NYSE: CABO)

Telecommunications

  • Consumer Cellular: mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which GTCR acquired for $2bn in December 2020. Presently, the company serves 4 million subscribers in the United States
  • Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO): provides broadband / in-flight connectivity and entertainment solutions to the business aviation (private jet) market
Jonathan Kim covers Fiber for Dgtl Infra, including Zayo Group, Cogent Communications (NASDAQ: CCOI), Uniti Group (NASDAQ: UNIT), Lumen Technologies (NYSE: LUMN), Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: FYBR), Consolidated Communications (NASDAQ: CNSL), and many more. Within Fiber, Jonathan focuses on the sub-sectors of wholesale / dark fiber, enterprise fiber, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP), and subsea cables.

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