ABC Communications

Ensuring the smooth transition of ownership of a leading regional telco Over 20 years of growth, ABC Communications evolved into one of the largest companies servicing rural pockets of B.C., providing broadband with wireless technology to areas not serviced by larger companies. When sold in 2020, the company had a valuable wireless spectrum and 40 staff working across B.C.

Selling was the best option

ABC Internet was founded by Bob Allen in 1995 when it was a pioneer in Fixed Wireless Access systems. Bob led ABC Internet with the help of his son, Chris Allen, for twenty years, working well past his retirement until the desire grew to step down. As Bob’s retirement date became more of a reality, he and his son contemplated different options to ensure that he received the appropriate reward from his investment.

They considered selling shares to employees, or Chris taking over the majority of the company, but neither of those options promised to fully return the value that Bob had put into the company. “We looked at all that and it didn’t really fit the reality,” Chris says. “It became clear that to retire properly and to reach the true value of his asset, he needed to sell the company.”

This decision couldn’t have been timed better. After the purchase of several spectrum licences in 2004, and the subsequent mass adoption of 5G technology, the valuation of the company shot up just as they began to seriously look to sell.

Keeping Focused, Moving Forward

“Everything was converging,” Chris says; Bob was nearing retirement, and they had an attractive product. They had considered offers in the past, but without an advisor, and the transactions never went very far. This time, they decided to take the step to hire Stage Left Partners to begin the proceedings.

Stage Left immediately went to work designing the CIM. The next step was to find potential buyers. At this point, Chris was already impressed with Stage Left’s level of commitment – through all the administrative work, the “almost” deals, the pullbacks and the emotions, they kept the Allens on-track, focused and moving forward.

“That was the biggest asset they provided us with – continually setting deadlines and trying to hold us to it, even if it wasn’t easy and they got lots of pushback. It was a huge benefit to have an advisor to keep us on track. You kind of need to have a parent there, who’s coaching you along on the journey.”

From Transaction to Final Signature

In addition to concerns over seeing a high return on Bob’s long investment in the company, the Allens wanted to be sure that their employees, who they considered family, would be taken care of by an incoming telco giant.

Telus was an interested entity, but Bob and Chris still wanted to shop ABC around, a process which Stage Left performed diligently. “Every name we picked up for them, they were willing to chase that lead down for us and try to shop to those companies, even when they were long shots,” says Chris.

Even though Telus seemed to be the obvious choice, Stage Left impressed ABC with their willingness to earnestly take on every possibility. In the end, Telus did present the best offer. And when it came time to complete the process, even when emotions ran high, Stage Left persevered, took the lead and secured the best deal.

“There was a lot of work to do. What they could take off our plates for us, they did. They streamlined it for us, made it as easy as they possibly could, and that took a lot of the lift off.”

ABC Communications sold to Telus in May 2020, and Chris says he is pleasantly surprised at how smooth and easy the transition has been, as Stage Left has continued to support them through the catch-up phase and beyond.

In fact, he has now been hired by Telus in much the same capacity as when he was working at ABC. “It was overall a really great experience for me. I know it was tough at times and I commend them on their tenacity to stick with it and get it done.”

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