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Berkshire to Buy Lightower, Sidera for $2 Billion

Berkshire Partners LLC, a Boston-based buyout firm that invests in mid-sized companies, agreed to acquire Lightower Fiber Networks and Sidera Networks in a $2 billion deal that will create a fiber-optic network operator serving 6,000 locations.

Berkshire Partners plans to merge the two companies, which will be run by Lightower Chief Executive Officer Rob Shanahan, according to a statement today. M/C Partners and Pamlico Capital acquired Lightower from National Grid Plc in 2007. Pamlico, the former private-equity unit of Wachovia Corp. before it was purchased by Wells Fargo & Co., will remain an investor in the new business, as will Sidera backer Abry Partners.

Berkshire Partners has raised $11 billion since it was co-founded in 1984 by a group including Brad Bloom and Richard Lubin, previously of Boston-based buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners LP. Berkshire Partners’ prior investments in communications companies include the acquisition last year of Telx Group Inc., for which it teamed up with Abry Partners, also based in Boston.

Lightower and Sidera build high-capacity networks for customers such as data-center operators, commercial buildings and financial exchanges. Combined, they will have 20,000 miles of network in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

‘Robust Network’

“The combined company, with its incredibly robust network, is well positioned for continued growth serving customers with an ever-increasing need for high-performance bandwidth,” Randy Peeler, a managing director at Berkshire Partners, said in the statement.

Berkshire Partners isn’t affiliated with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. of Omaha, Nebraska.

M/C Partners, which invests in communications, media and technology companies, and Pamlico Capital acquired National Grid Wireless US in 2007 and later renamed it Lightower. Abry Partners in August 2010 acquired cable operator RCN Corp. for $1.2 billion, and spun out Sidera as an independent business.

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