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Thompson Dean in debut deal

Former DLJ head Thompson Dean has notched his first deal for Avista Capital Partners, the DLJ spinout launched by Dean and other CSFB veterans earlier this year.

Thompson Dean’s newly launched Avista Capital Partners, based in New York, has inked its first deal, acquiring cable operator WideOpenWest in an undisclosed transaction. Oak Hill Capital Partners and ABRY Partners currently control the Colorado-based cable outfit, which is scheduled to trade hands in the first half of next year.

WideOpenWest is a cable operator with a presence in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The company also provides high-speed Internet access and digital telephone service and operates under the acronym WOW!.

There was no word from Avista’s spokesperson as to how the firm would finance the transaction. The group is raising its inaugural fund, which is reportedly seeking between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. However, it is unknown if the fund has held a first close. Avista’s spokesperson declined comment for this story.

The group was spawned when former DLJ Merchant Banking head Thompson Dean bolted from the Credit Suisse First Boston private equity arm this past summer. He left to launch Avista with 15 of other colleagues, including Steven Webster, who is the co-managing partner and president at the new firm.

Joining Avista on the fundraising trail is another DLJ spinout, Diamond Castle Holdings, the Lawrence Schloss-led group that recently closed on $568 million of a targeted $2.5 billion earlier this fall. Diamond Castle also notched its first deal recently, acquiring a control stake in wind-energy producer Catamount Resources Corp.

Regarding Avista’s debut deal, David Burgstahler, a former CSFB hand and current Avista partner, credited the growing trends in the cable sector for sparking the firm’s interest. “We believe strongly in the continued future growth of the cable industry…We’re confident in the company’s opportunities for additional growth and enthusiastic about partnering with such an exceptional management team,” he said in a statement.

Avista lists the media segment as one of its specialties, alongside of the healthcare and energy sectors.

Credit Suisse First Boston and Waller Capital advised WideOpenWest on the sale.