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Vivint CEO talks $2 billion acquisition by Blackstone

September 19, 2012: 10:58 AM ET

What the home automation giant is planning next.

FORTUNE -- The Blackstone Group (BX) today announced that has agreed to acquire Vivint, a Utah-based provider of home services like automated security and solar energy systems, at an enterprise value of more than $2 billion.

It's been a private equity-backed company for years -- sellers include Goldman Sachs (GS) and Jupiter Partners -- but this will be the first time that a financial sponsor will hold more than a 50% stake.

So I had some questions for Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen, who will continue to lead the company:

FORTUNE: Why did you choose to seek a private equity buyer, rather than do an IPO?

PEDERSEN: "I've never had the goal of going public. There may be a time we need to do it, but there are still very good financing structures around the different industries we're bringing together. Probably we'll seriously consider an IPO at some point in time, but we haven't given any thought to when that could be.

Our goal is to execute on our business plan. We have a solar division launched a year ago, which I think will be the largest developer of residential solar on a daily basis by year-end. There is talk of SolarCity doing an IPO. If it's successful, and we hope they are, it's possible that our solar division could do an IPO with our parent company remaining private."

Why Blackstone? Was it the highest bid?

Yes, Blackstone was ultimately the highest bid, but we really liked their scale, expertise in the capital markets and international presence. For example, we're planning to open a security unit in Australia soon. They also have segments of focus that kind of coincide with things we're doing like in the healthcare space. Or the real estate space, in terms of things we do with automation for energy management services and lighting controls.

We're growing very rapidly, but not as rapidly as we could. And that's mainly been an issue of capital constraints. We think this deal helps in that regard.

Does that mean the deal includes new working capital from Blackstone?

No, it's about the new credit facilities. We're kind of like an old cable play, bringing together businesses and services together."

Any worries that, for the first time, management is the minority shareholder?

Yes, of course. This is the first time I've been an employee. I'll still have a very large share of the company, but by reputation and due diligence, Blackstone is a very fair and supportive company. My responsibility will be to think about how to roll out new services and enhance existing services. If I'm not doing my job properly, they'll make the decisions that should be made.

What are your top strategic goals from now through the end of 2013?

From an EBITDA perspective, we grew at 60% last year and I think we'll be in that range this year and I want to be in that range again next year.

In the solar space, we intend to be the largest developer of residential solar in North America by many times over at the end of this year. In solar, we talk in thousands of customers on a daily basis, while others talk in tens and twenties. We want to bring the backbone of Virint, customer acquisition and installation, in a grand scale to that space.

And we intend, at some point in the next year, to launch a home healthcare services offering. In the home automation and security space, we have a new 2-gigabit product launched and we want to move it into the commercial space."

Any plans to accomplish some of that via acquisition?

"We don't have any plans to do acquisitions. We've done everything organically to this point, and it's worked for us."

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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