In a their proxy filing a couple weeks ago with the SEC, tw telecom gave the usual detailed look at the sale process. And indeed, there were others who kicked the tires and made bids, as noted by Channel Partners the other day. But I have to say, relative to the frequency of rumors it was actually a pretty small number.
The currently pending LVLT/TWTC merger emerged after several conversations this past spring between tw telecom CEO Larissa Herda and Level 3 CEO Jeff Storey, rather unsurprisingly. The courtship began in March and evolved to talks of a combination by April. In mid-May, Level 3 made a bid of $37/share and tw telecom quickly countered with $42/share. That differential had narrowed to $39 and $41 by the first of June, and then settled on $40.56, the details of which were hammered out over the next two weeks.
But while tw telecom also considered an alternative combination with a privately held 'Party D' this spring, it wasn't an active discussion but seems to have been just a hypothetical comparison. I'd venture a guess that Party D might be Zayo.
Two other suitors 'Party A' and 'Party B' had made preliminary bids in the $30-32 range, but these were in the summer of 2012. Powerful rumors in September of 2012 put tw telecom in active discussions with CenturyLink of course, and it's a no-brainer that they were probably A or B - let's say A. tw telecom also talked to a Party C and to Level 3 that summer, but Party C dropped out early while Level 3 was too busy with the Global Crossing integration to make the move at the time. By the end of September 2012, tw telecom had decided not to proceed with any of the possible combinations.
As for Parties B and C, I'd have to guess they were cable MSOs, probably Comcast and TW Cable although I'm not sure in what order and I'd welcome other speculations.
So there was indeed some fire underneath all that smoke over the past few years, but not all that much of it -- at least of the type that ever rose to the level that required disclosure. I'm rather surprised that there weren't more conversations going on in the intervening two years, if not with CenturyLink then with the cable MSOs given the other metro fiber deals they were doing (TWC/DukeNet, Cox/EasyTel).
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