Veronis, Suhler & Associates, the independent investment bank that specializes in media properties, has hired Wall Street veteran Francis A. L’Esperance III as managing director of its Broadcasting and Entertainment Group.
L’Esperance’s bailiwick at VS&A will include television, cable, radio, DBS, telecom, film and recorded music. VS&A co-CEO John Suhler, who called these interests a “media super-segment,” said on announcing L’Esperance’s arrival that it was “a good time to bring all of our broadcast and entertainment activities under one group.”
L’Esperance, 41, joins VS&A from SBC Warburg Dillon Read, where he ran the media department since 1993. He began his Wall Street career in 1986 after three years at CBS, where he worked in the broadcast division’s sales and planning units.
On Wall Street, L’Esperance specialized in media-based transactions, initially with Prudential-Bache, including the $2 billion merger of United Cable with United Artists, and the $712 million sale of Diamandis Communications Inc. to Hachette. In 1988, L’Esperance joined Lehman Brothers, where his specialty was put to use by the Chicago Sun-Times, E! Entertainment Television, Infinity Broadcasting, Gannett and others.
At Dillon Read, the media group formed and headed by L’Esperance, represented Times Mirror Co. during the 1995 spinoff and merger of its cable operations, valued at $2.3 billion, to Cox Communications Inc. L’Esperance’s group also co-led the international portion of a $526 million initial public offering for TV Azteca, the second-largest television broadcaster in Mexico.
Since its formation in 1981, VS&A has completed more than 390 transactions worth, collectively, more than $20 billion. The firm’s $330 million private equity fund, VS&A Communications Partners II L.P., makes direct investments in the communications industry.