Investment firm to buy Protection One

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Thursday, January 1, 2004

January 1 , 2004

TOPEKA, Kan. - Ending months of speculation, Westar Energy officials announced last week the company had found a buyer for the energy company's majority stake in security company Protection One.

Westar will sell its 88 percent stake in Protection One to investment firm Quadrangle Group, a firm that specializes in companies with distressed debt. The New York-based company, with its $120 million bid, emerged as the winner in a nearly year-long process of finding a new owner for the security company.

"Quadrangle seems to be well suited in that they have a division that has a lot of experience with debt restructuring and troubled debt," said Michael Barnes, president of Barnes Associates in St. Louis. "The critical issue for (them) is what is their strategy for dealing with the collective stakeholders…and their strategy for the operations of the company."

Quadrangle officials could not be reached for comment for this story.

It's unclear what the announcement of the sale will mean for Protection One, where company officials said that it's too early in the transaction to talk about what's next, said Robin Lampe, a company spokesperson.

State regulators told Westar officials more than a year ago that the company must reduce its debt, which at one time totaled more than $3 billion.

The sale "was the last big part of our plan" to reduce debt and return Westar to a pure utility company, said Karla Olsen, senior manager of media relations for Westar.

Westar paid $320 million for an 80.1 percent stake in Protection One in 1997, and made additional acquisitions in the company over the years, she said.

The deal is expected to close sometime in the first quarter of this year.

For more on this story, see the February edition of Security Systems News.