Advanced television outfit Cadent is looking for a buyer, Adweek has learned, as early investors in the technology look to cash in on the media industry’s eagerness to fuse the mass audience reach of TV with the granularity of digital ad targeting.
Cadent owner Lee Equity Partners has received some inbound inquiries, according to people with direct knowledge, saying the private equity group has been quietly running a sale process for some time. Sources, however, are unclear on how much Lee Equity is looking for from a potential buyer.
In recent weeks, rumors circulated among industry executives that AT&T and Comcast were both evaluating a potential offer to further their respective inroads to advanced TV.
All parties—AT&T, Cadent and Comcast—declined to comment on the record when contacted by Adweek, citing their respective policies toward industry hearsay and speculation.
Separate sources with knowledge of AT&T and Comcast’s respective acquisition strategies were quick to dispel such notions. One well-placed source noted that “few talks [if any] have happened” between Cadent and the former company.
AT&T has made several big-budget M&A moves over the past 18 months including the $1.6 billion purchase of AppNexus, which now forms part of its Xandr offering. That deal came in addition to its $85 billion mega-merger with Timer Warner, with the resulting company now known as WarnerMedia.
Earlier in the year, reports surfaced asserting that NBCUniversal-owner Comcast was exploring a potential bid for Cadent as well as video ad-tech firm DataXu, but sources said no such deal is likely to happen. Other parties noted that Comcast and DataXu had discussions earlier in the year but noted that such a deal would also be unlikely; the two were thought to be far apart in terms of their respective valuations of the latter company.
That said, several outside parties including TV ad sales houses and rival private equity firms are still thought to be interested in acquiring Cadent. The timeline for any such purchase remains unclear.
Cadent consolidated its respective offerings—which include addressable and linear TV advertising services, as well as dynamic ad insertion and programmatic buying—last year. Until then, it had operated under parent company Cross MediaWorks after a years-long acquisition spree by private equity firm Lee Equity. Those moves included the 2015 purchase of BlackArrow and the 2017 launch of one2one Media.
News of Lee Equity’s intended sale of Cadent comes just a week after PE firm O3 Industries purchased contextual targeting outfit Peer39 from Sizmek in the last major part of that company’s chapter 11 proceedings.