The private-equity firms received first-round bids for Atlantic last week, according to the people, who declined to be named because discussions are private. The deal, which is being managed by Credit Suisse Group AG, could be worth about $1.4 billion, one of the people said.
Atlantic, a provider of Internet, television and telephone service, is the 14th-largest U.S. cable operator, according to the company’s website. Smaller cable systems, such as Knology Inc. and Insight Communications Co., have sold themselves in the past 12 months as rising programming costs crimp margins.
Patrick Bratton, chief financial officer of Quincy, Massachusetts-based Atlantic Broadband, didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
Atlantic operates cable systems in four main areas around Western Pennsylvania, Miami Beach, Maryland and South Carolina. Atlantic was formed in 2003 after it purchased cable systems from St. Louis-based Charter Communications Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. cable system.
Possible buyers may include other private-equity firms, said one of the people. Abry Partners, based in Boston, also owns cable providers RCN Cable and Grande Communications Networks LLC.
Cable companies face rising expenses and a shrinking pool of video subscribers, putting pressure on the industry to consolidate. The 10 largest cable providers lost 1.62 million video customers in 2011 and 1.78 million the year before, according to Leichtman Research Group in Durham, New Hampshire.
Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), No. 1 in the industry, reported its 20th consecutive quarterly decline in video subscribers this month.
Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) agreed to pay about $3 billion in cash for Insight in August. Closely held WideOpenWest LLC, meanwhile, announced plans to buy Knology for about $750 million last month.
WaveDivision Holdings LLC, which serves more than 325,000 residential and business customers in Washington, Oregon and California, also is exploring a sale, a person familiar with the matter said earlier this year. That deal may value the company at about $1 billion, the person said.
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