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|Wednesday, August 19, 2009|
Maybe you’ve heard the one about the fast-rising Portland company that got snapped up in a “loan-to-own” deal that’s becoming increasingly commonplace as the vultures circle. Maybe you read it last week in this blog, under the category of bad news.
DS: Well, again, this is the third time we have worked with Tennenbaum, and two out of those three times that was not the case. In this situation, yes, they are converting their debt into a significant equity stake. You can describe that as loan to own, that’s a perfectly fair description. But I would point out that the reason this is happening is we are in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and it’s becoming very common for companies that have been high-growth companies to have to restructure their debt.
Integra has done nothing but grow since it launched in 1996 following the breakup of the Ma Bell monopoly. It doubled its size in 2006 by buying Electric Lightwave and doubled it again in 2007 by buying Eschelon for $700 million. One of every five businesses in Portland is an Integra customer today. Unfortunately, far too many of them have been cutting back or disappearing. That has slowed Integra's rise and made those two big purchases harder to swallow.
Quite the contrary, Slater says: “Cost-cutting will save you a dollar today but you will never be able to grow the business if you are taking your employees out of the business. We need our employees to grow the business. We would be crazy to cut costs now. This industry was a monopoly not long ago, and there’s still plenty of room to grow.”
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