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Finance virtual roundtable: The most interesting deals of 2013 and predictions for 2014

Holloway, Epstein and Schmidt opine on valuations for alarm companies and integration firms, offer advice for sellers
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12/30/2013

Every January, Security Systems News asks security finance experts to share their opinions on deals done, valuations sought and won, and prospects for buyers and sellers in the coming year.

Monitronics officials to present at credit, investor conferences

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12/02/2013

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Executives of Ascent Capital Group and its subsidiary Monitronics are scheduled to speak at upcoming credit and security conferences.

Ascent Capital reaps windfall of Security Networks acquisition

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Buoyed by the $487 million acquisition of Security Networks, Ascent Capital, the holding company that owns Monitronics, posted some sterling numbers for the third quarter of 2013—numbers that underscore why investment firms continue to find the RMR model attractive (long-term contracts, high margins, cash flow predictability). The list goes on.

Ascent’s net revenue for the three and nine months (ended Sept. 30, 2013) increased 36.8 percent and 27.4 percent, respectively. The growth was fueled by an increase in subscriber accounts and “the related increase in monthly recurring revenue,” according to an Ascent news release.

Security Networks was no small acquisition; when it was purchased in July it was the fourteenth largest residential alarm monitoring company in the United States. In addition to bringing in 225 dealers, the move brought another 195,000 accounts into the fold.

Ascent also reported that Monitronics’ adjusted EBITDA for the three and nine months intervals increased 35.2 percent and 27.1 percent, respectively. They also saw a modest increase in RMR per subscriber (6.3 percent).

The news release would suggest this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Ascent Capital on the acquisition front in the alarm space. Ascent chairman and CEO Bill Fitzgerald stated, “Looking ahead, we remain committed to identifying accretive acquisition opportunities, making certain that we continue to put shareholder capital to work in an effective and productive manner.”

Mike Haislip, president and CEO of Monitronics, noted that the near-term goals include further integrating the Security Networks business, and positioning the combined company for future growth.

Monitronics among best workplaces in Dallas-Fort Worth

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11/12/2013

DALLAS—Monitronics has been named one of the top 100 places to work in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the third consecutive year, the company announced Nov. 12.

Ascent Capital's largest stockholder sells half of his preferred shares

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some intriguing financial news out of the Monitronics/Ascent Capital camp. Ascent Capital Group’s largest direct stockholder, media mogul John Malone, recently sold half his preferred shares—worth $32.7 million in cash—back to the company, according to a news release from Ascent Capital. The divestment comes nearly three years after Ascent acquired Monitronics in a $1.2 billion deal.

Malone, who sold 351,734 shares, now owns the same number of Series B shares, plus 198,540 Series A shares, which together comprise 21.6 percent of the Ascent shareholder vote, the release noted.

In an email exchange, Henry Edmonds, president of The Edmonds Group, a St. Louis-based investment bank, indicated that the move would likely please shareholders. "Ascent has had plenty of cash on its balance sheet so this is not a bad use of funds to help stock price," he said.

It will be interesting to see what (if any) effect this has on operations at Monitronics, a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Ascent. An investor I contacted seemed to believe it would not have much effect. Yesterday, the company announced that it will report its earnings on Nov. 12, 2013. On that date, the company will host a conference call in which management will give an update on Ascent’s operations, including the financial performance of Monitronics, and “may also discuss future opportunities,” the release said.

In all likelihood I’ll be dialing into that conference call, which I’m hoping will shed some light on what those opportunities might be. 

Monitronics dispatcher, family dog save woman’s life

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10/07/2013

DALLAS—When Monitronics dispatcher Iliana Ibanez Rodriguez took a call from Candace Lines’ home, she heard nothing in response to her questions and knew something was wrong.

Former Security Networks CEO Rich Perry mulls next move

Perry looks to 'find the right situation, grow another business'
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08/21/2013

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—With the Aug. 16 close of the Monitronics-Security Networks deal behind him, former Security Networks CEO Rich Perry is taking some time off, but he’s spending some of that time thinking about his next venture in the security industry.

Contract chat: exculpatory and limitation of liability clauses

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A few weeks ago, in response to a Georgia appellate court decision upholding a verdict against Monitronics in a multi-million dollar case, Ken Kirschenbaum, an industry attorney, posed a simple question on his email newsletter to subscribers: "Why should an alarm contract be drafted so that judges find so much confusion?" 

It's a fair question. There was little consensus among the appellate court judges, and some of the judges who concurred with the original verdict cited different reasons for doing so. While the case is not yet settled (it may yet move to a higher court), the implication seems to be that the exculpatory and limitation of liability provisions in the contract were not established in a manner that could provide adequate protection.

This is an issue that stands to remain relevant for central station alarm monitoring companies everywhere. The case, too, is a big enough deal that Kirschenbaum himself updated some of his standard form contracts to make the protective provisions more enforceable, and account for some of the worst case scenarios which surfaced in the Veasley v. Monitronics case.

From Kirschenbaum’s newsletter:

“Why did I make the changes even though the Monitronics case is likely to be appealed and hopefully reversed? Because the same issues raised in Monitronics have been and will continue to be addressed in courts all over the country. Courts are looking for ways to impose duties on the alarm companies and avoid contract enforcement.”

Part of what makes the Monitronics case so legally murky, and even intimidating from a contractual standpoint, is that the end result, as Kirschenbaum points out, was personal injury. What’s more, the injury was caused by service rather than equipment negligence, the court determined.

Kirschenbaum’s piece is worth a read in its entirety because it discusses the sheer breadth of considerations that have to be made when designing a contract with clear and enforceable protections. You can subscribe to his newsletter here.

More on activist investor Ackman and ADT

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

There was additional speculation this week about whether activist hedge-fund manager William Ackman is intending to take a stake in The ADT Corp. An article in The New York Times said that his investing in the home security/home automation giant is more likely than his buying into FedEx, another company he is rumored to be considering.

The article said that’s basically because Ackman would have less say in FedEx, a much larger company than ADT, where he could wield greater influence.

There’s a possibility we could find out the answer later this week. Bloomberg reported July 9 that Ackman, who runs $12 billion Pershing Square Capital Management, was raising $1 billion over the next 10 days to buy a stake in a “large-capitalization, investment-grade U.S. corporation that principally operates in one business” that he didn’t name.

If he's successful, that would mean he’d have the money by this Thursday or Friday and he could reveal his pick then. However, he also could wait until later this year before announcing the choice, Nicholas Heymann, co-group head of global industrial infrastructure for New York-based William Blair & Company, told me.

"The issue is once you raise the money you have to put it to work," he said. However, Heymann said, "chances are, especially if it happens to be including some of his other 12 billion dollars of funds that he manages in addition to the $1 billion single stock fund, you and I are not going to know what his positions are until they’re reported 45 days after the close of the quarter, so we could end up hearing about this in mid-November."  The news could come earlier if Ackman chooses to voluntarily disclose it, Heymann said.

ADT has told Security Systems News the company does not comment on market rumors.

But some other important industry news is also related to ADT, and that’s the recent announcement that Monitronics plans to acquire Security Networks next month.

“We continue to look at the ramifications of the Security Networks acquisition by Monitronics as it relates to the implied value of ADT,” Heymann said.

In a July 11 William Blair & Company industry report authored by Heymann, the company explained how that pending deal sheds light on the value of ADT. Here’s some more detail from the report:
 

Our belief that ADT remains the most undervalued company in our multi-industry universe was starkly highlighted with the announcement after the close yesterday that Ascent Capital Group’s (ASCMA $84.15) primary operating subsidiary, Monitronics International, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Security Networks for total compensation of $507.5 million, or about 60 times Security Networks’ average recurring monthly revenue. Before the announcement of this transaction, Monitronics was the third-largest North American residential security company and Security Networks was the 14th-largest. Following the completion of the proposed acquisition, the combined company will have 1.034 million customers (almost the same number as Protection One, the current second-largest North American residential security provider) and, on a pro forma basis, hold just under a 4% share of the North American residential security market.

… The valuation paid for Network Securities by Monitronics would value ADT between $67 and $74 per share. On an implied market capitalization basis, ADT would be valued in a range of $15.4 billion-$16.8 billion, well above the company’s current $9.2 billion market capitalization.

ADT stock closed at $42.68 per share today. That's down 28 cents or .65 percent from its $42.96 close yesterday and Heymann speculated later today that talk that Ackmann was NOT interested in buying into ADT may have caused the drop, the opposite of last week when ADT stock climbed based on speculation that Ackman was interested. "We think Ackman may have been at this big hedge fund meeting this afternoon and said something that implied he was NOT looking at ADT ... or an ADT type company," Heymann told me in an email this afternoon.

So which company does Ackman have his sights on? The situation is decidedly very fluid, and very interesting. I’ll be reporting more on this. Stay tuned!

 

 

'20 under 40' 2013 - Renee Mallonee

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06/11/2013

Renee Mallonee, 29
Dealer marketing manager, Monitronics
Dallas, Texas

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