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Groton City Council ready to close cable TV deal

By Greg Smith

Publication: The Day

Published January 23. 2013 4:00AM

Groton -The City Council on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to the investment management firm poised to take ownership of Thames Valley Communications, the municipally-owned cable and Internet company.

City Mayor Marian Galbraith has said details are being worked out to finalize the $550,000 deal with the buyers, CTP Investors LLC.

Galbraith said the council reviewed all bids for TVC last week, agreeing that CTP's was "still the materially better offer," following the submission of three other bids.

"We wanted to reaffirm it, ratify our decision from last week," Galbraith said of Tuesday's vote.

The council first voted to sell TVC, a subsidiary of Groton Utilities, in November - shortly after Galbraith and TVC President Paul Yatcko made public TVC's financial woes - outstanding debt totaling $27.5 million and operating losses that averaged more than $2 million a year since the company was established in 2004.

At that time they also announced that a months-long search for a buyer had netted just one bid, a $150,000 offer from CTP Investors. The offer was far less than the city had expected based on the contract with financial advisers RBC Daniels, which was hired to find a buyer and agreed to accept a percentage of the final sale, or a minimum payment of $400,000.

CTP announced its plan to invest in growing TVC and continuing service. Transfer of ownership was slated to take place on Jan. 1 but has been delayed in part because of a public call for more information and interest expressed by potential buyers.

City resident Michael Boucher, an outspoken critic of the handling of the sale, continued to question the City Council Tuesday, calling for more transparency and explanations for undisclosed financial information associated with TVC, including how the $34.5 million in bonded money was spent.

"Please be up front with the taxpayers," he said.

The city has not released the names of the bidders, the amounts of the bids or the methodology used for deciding on the winning bid. The Day has filed a state Freedom of Information request for the information.

A publicly available report from TVC to the state Department of Public Utility Control shows that in 2011 TVC reported 8,357 homes served in Groton, Stonington and Ledyard with $10.18 million in total revenues.

g.smith@theday.com

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