Groton’s deal to shed TVC finalized as new owners take the reins

Groton — The city officially signed over Thames Valley Communications to its new owners on Friday, ending a financially unsuccessful eight-year run by the state’s only municipally owned cable, phone and Internet service.

CTP Investors paid $550,000 for TVC, more than the original offer of $150,000 but far less than the city expected when they first set out to find a buyer more than a year ago. CTP Investors is a private investment management firm headed by Bill Pearson and backed by Council Tree Investors. Pearson has announced his intention to invest in the company to keep it competitive with its larger competitors.

Paul Yatcko, director of Groton Utilities, resigned his position as TVC president after Friday’s transfer of ownership. Groton Utilities is taking on the $27.5 million in debt borrowed by the city to establish TVC, along with a transfer of more than $11 million in accumulated losses by the company in past years.

Yatcko and City Mayor Marian Galbraith remained optimistic about the future of the company and heartened by the financial burden lifted from the city’s shoulders. The city sought the sale as a way to halt yearly losses suffered by TVC since its inception in 2004 as a subsidiary of Groton Utilities. The losses eventually led to a downgrade in the city’s bond rating and criticism about the handling of the finances by some residents.

The sale, according to Galbraith, will serve to improve the city’s financial status for the future. Groton Utilities is expected to absorb the debt without impacting electric or water rates, Yatcko said.

In a written statement, Galbraith said the sale and search for a buyer was a long process that she started working on shortly after she took office.

“It took some time, but we have identified the best solution for TVC and the City of Groton going forward,” Galbraith said in the statement. “Over the last six months, we have provided public presentations, answered citizens’ questions, held two rounds of solicitation for bids, and had outside consultants evaluate all options for TVC’s future. At this point, we are confident we have established the best route forward.”

“I wish the new owners and their employees well in their venture and hope our citizens will join me in continuing to support this vital local company,” Galbraith said.

Pearson, CTP Investors president, declined comment on the transfer, but said earlier this week that he had begun meeting with the nearly two dozen employees as part of an overall evaluation of the company. The company is based at the city’s municipal building, where the city has offered free rent for the first year, half off for the second and $34,000 in the third year.

“I’m really looking forward to the changes and investments that CTP Investors is going to make in the business,” Yatcko said. “I want to thank all of our employees for their contributions in the past and in their contributions in the future. I wish them well.”

Whether or not CTP Investors will retain all of the employees is unclear.

g.smith@theday.com

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