Plan Surfaces to Take Insight Private

Mar 14, 2005  •  Post A Comment

In a move that could lead cable operator Insight Communications to follow the path recently taken by Cox Communications, Insight co-founders Stanley Knafel and Michael Willner and the private-equity firm The Carlyle Group last week unveiled a $650 million proposal to take the company private.

As part of the plan announced March 7, Mr. Knafel, Insight’s chairman, Mr. Willner, Insight’s CEO, and The Carlyle Group would form an acquiring entity called New Insight LLC that would offer to purchase all outstanding Insight shares for $10.70 apiece, representing an 11 percent premium over Insight’s March 4 closing price. Mr. Knafel and Mr. Willner combined own about 14 percent of Insight’s equity and control 62 percent of the stock vote.

The transaction would put Insight’s enterprise value at about $2.1 billion, and, if approved by independent directors and shareholders, would keep Mr. Knafel, Mr. Willner and the rest of the management team in place, the company said.

The move to go private is generally seen by Wall Street analysts as an indication of Mr. Knafel’s and Mr. Willner’s confidence in the cable business, and perhaps their frustration with Insight’s weak stock price. Insight has about 1.3 million subscribers in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

Some analysts say Insight’s move might lead other cable operators with a single shareholder who has voting control, including Charter Communications and Mediacom Communications, to follow suit.

If Insight’s shareholders approve the plan, Insight will be the second cable company to go private in the span of a year. Cox Communications did so in 2004.