Latest Grass Valley acquisition in the books

Maybe the fifth time will be the charm.

Nevada City, CA-based Grass Valley has transferred its Broadcast & Professional business from Technicolor to Francisco Partners, a private investment firm specializing in technology companies. Grass Valley had been on the market since 2009 and, as an entity that supplies professional production equipment, is now under its fifth official owner.

Donald Hare founded the company as an independent entity that had to show its first product, a video distribution amplifier, in a hotel room at NAB. The company is now once again an independent company doing business under the trade name Grass Valley.

Under terms of the latest deal, Francisco Partners paid Thomson’s Technicolor approximately $80 million (via a promissory note with a six-year maturity and bearing a capitalized interest of 5 percent per year) for the Grass Valley business. An earlier company statement said the amount of the note represents the value of Grass Valley minus the present value of retirement liabilities transferred. The deal has other provisions as well.

Terms of the sale include 100 percent ownership of the current Grass Valley Broadcast & Professional business. This includes camera, content repurposing, editing, master control, modular, news production, production automation, production switchers, routing and video servers product lines including their entire product portfolios, the R&D centers and factories around the world, the sales and systems activities and customer support organization worldwide, in addition to the management and administrative support functions dedicated to the business.

The Grass Valley business is no stranger to new ownership. Hare founded the original video technology company in 1959, making custom video distribution amplifiers and other signal-processing (tube-based) units. By 1968, the then-called Grass Valley Group introduced its first video production switcher, the Grass Valley 100.

The company merged with Tektronix in 1975 and was later sold to a private investor, the late Terry Gooding, Sept. 24, 1999, who reincorporated it under the name Grass Valley Group Inc. Gooding subsequently sold the company, which now included switchers, routers, servers and other products, to France-based Thomson in 2001, when it was rebranded Thomson Grass Valley.

Thomson’s Technicolor division put the Grass Valley Broadcast & Professional business up for sale Jan. 28, 2009.

The “new” Grass Valley has created a special website to help customers and technology partners understand the specifics of the sale. The site contains a variety of press releases, FAQs, an open letter from Grass Valley management, background information on Francisco Partners and more.