A Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm focused on the communications industry has agreed to buy a majority stake in Ritter Communications. On August 12, Ritter Communications announced that Grain Management has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase a stake in the Jonesboro-headquartered company.
Financial terms for the transaction were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close in 2019’s fourth quarter pending regulatory approvals.
Ritter Communications, founded in 1906, provides advanced internet, phone, video and hosted services throughout Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. According to its website, the company serves 89 communities with more than 45,000 customers.
Currently, Ritter Communications is owned by E. Ritter and Company.
“Our goal was to secure the company’s future by bringing in a majority investor and partner with industry expertise and a proven history in the communications sector; the Ritter family will retain positions on the board and continue to be involved,” said Ronda Ritter Ray, lead family director and fourth-generation Ritter family shareholder. “The business still represents a substantial portion of the E. Ritter and Company portfolio and our family is proud to see the company continue to use the Ritter brand that has served Arkansas communities for generations.”
In recent months, Ritter has made a number of high-profile announcements. The company announced in February that it would be investing $7 million to bring high speed internet to Hot Springs. At the announcement, the company expected to have the internet services up-and-running by the end of summer 2019.
“Our focus has been to help rural communities grow and prosper by providing the same state of the art services that normally you can only get in major urban areas,” Alan Morse, Ritter Communications President, said. “Over the past several years, we’ve expanded our network to offer those services in places like Batesville, Mountain Home, Searcy, (and) Russellville.”
Ritter also started construction on a new cloud and data storage facility at its Jonesboro campus. The 8,900 square foot facility is an $8 million investment.
According to Morse, the Grain Management transaction will allow Ritter to continue its expansion and company growth.
“Our partnership with Grain Management will allow us to accelerate hiring and the expansion of our fiber network plans,” Morse said. “We have demonstrated we know how to grow the business. Grain Management recognized our proven track record and wanted the opportunity to partner with the Ritter family to grow the business and invest in what we’ve built here.”
Since its founding in 2007, Grain Management has reportedly managed more than $2 billion in investments with more than 80 transactions.
Grain Management announced that in April 2019 that it had closed its fourth fund, Grain Communications Opportunity Fund II, L.P. The company says the fund has $899 million in commitments.