Providence Equity Partners Inc.

  • Overview
THE SCOOP

Heaven blessed

Providence Equity Partners may be headquartered in the smallest state in the country, but this boutique private equity firm has global staying power.  With offices on three continents and over $22 billion in total capital, Providence Equity Partners was ranked the ninth largest private equity firm in the world by Private Equity International in 2008.  The company has 74 investment professionals operating out of six offices in Providence, New York, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong and New Delhi.

Providence Equity Partners was established in 1989 as a niche private equity company focusing on the media, entertainment, communications and information industries.  The firm has kept its focused approach to investing throughout its 19-year history.  It traditionally targets equity investments with values between $250 million and $2.5 billion.  The firm's latest fund is predicted to raise $12 billion.

Historically huge

In recent years, Providence Equity Partners has been vaulted from a quiet but formidable force in the private equity business to a high-profile player.  There are several reasons for its recent rise in media attention.  The first is the opening of new offices in Hong Kong and New Delhi, which expands Providence Equity Partners into the still relatively untapped Asian private equity market.  However, by far, the biggest attention-grabber for Providence Equity is the deal for Bell Canada (BCE), the largest telecommunications company in Canada.

The BCE deal helped Providence Equity snag the cover of Fortune magazine's May 2008 issue.  A picture of CEO Jonathan Nelson appeared next to the headline “The Biggest Deal Ever.† The $51 million deal was lauded by financial insiders as an expert maneuver by Nelson, who used his connections with the Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan (and BCE's largest shareholder) to beat out bigwigs The Carlyle Group, Blackstone and KKR in this much-coveted buyout.  Providence Equity partnered with The Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan and Madison Dearborn to fully finance the purchase.  Unfortunately, the deal did not materialize as BCE’s auditor declared that the firm would incur huge debts should the transaction push through.

Man of the moment

Due to the monumental size of the BCE deal and the way it was carried out, Providence Equity CEO Jonathan Nelson has also recently been thrust into the public spotlight.  With the firm ranked No. 6 on Fortune’s Private Equity Power List, Nelson seemed to have come out of nowhere to sit shoulder to shoulder with the Steve Schwarzmans of the world.  However, Nelson protested that his previous anonymity was just a matter of positioning.  From the firm's low-key headquarters in Providence, it was easy to fly under the radar and still post returns of 47 percent, 11 percent, 21 percent and 56 percent on its latest funds.  In the May 2008 Fortune profile, a friend described Nelson as underappreciated for his smart, risk taking techniques saying, “This is a guy who goes helicopter skiing in Greenland, who once dove under a boat because the propeller got caught in seaweed.  This is a guy who enjoys a real challenge.â€

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Providence Equity Partners Inc.


50 Kennedy Plaza
18th Floor
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 751-1700
Fax: (401) 751-1790
www.provequity.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • CEO: Jonathan M. Nelson
  • 2006 Employees: 39