Apax, Spectrum spend $320m for broadcast co

The two firms will acquire NEP Broadcasting, a provider of equipment and services for live feeds of sports and entertainment events, from Wachovia Capital Partners.

Apax Partners and Spectrum Equity Investors have agreed to buy NEP Broadcasting from Wachovia Capital Partners in a transaction valued at $320 million (€265 million).


Apax and Spectrum have each committed an equal amount towards the deal, with some debt financing coming from Wachovia.


Through its three specialisations, NEP provides various outsourced services to the sports and entertainment industries, including the Super Bowl, the Olympic Games and the Academy Awards. NEP Supershooters runs mobile television production through an army of vans for live sports and entertainment events. NEP Screenworks specialises in large, video screens for live-audience sports and entertainment events. NEP is also the largest independent operator of Manhattan-based TV production studios and post-production facilities.


According to Apax partner Salem Shuchman, who heads the firm’s US leveraged transaction group, NEP has a strong customer base since most networks now outsource their live broadcasts due to the technical and equipment demands of mobile broadcast production. With the advent of high-definition television (HDTV), he said NEP is strong since it has the necessary expertise and equipment necessary for HDTV production.


Shuchman said Apax and Spectrum’s invested capital will allow NEP to acquire more equipment, expand into new geographic markets including Europe, and acquire complementary businesses.


Wachovia became a significant investor in NEP in October 2000. The firm oversaw NEP’s acquisition of Screenworks and the Image Group.


Apax Partners global private equity business manages more than $12 billion. Earlier this year, Germany’s largest cable network operator Kabel Deutschland – owned equally by Apax, Providence Equity Partners and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners – agreed to acquire its three main regional competitors: Kabel BW, Iesy eKabel Hessen and Ish in a deal worth €2.7 billion ($3.3 billion). The private equity consortium acquired the company from Deutsche Telekom in March 2003 for €1.7 billion ($2.1 billion).