Chicago-based private equity company GTCR said Wednesday that it has agreed to buy Consumer Cellular, the wireless service provider focused on older users, in a deal some reports value at about $2.3 billion.
GTCR has been an aggressive player in the rural cable market -- it recently sold an interest in its Mega Broadband Investments, parent of Vyve Broadband, to Cable One for $547.1 million.
With the Consumer Cellular buy, GTCR gains about 4 million subscribers, mostly aged 50 and over. Ed Evans, a long-time wireless executive, will succeed Consumer Cellular founder John Marick as CEO of Consumer Cellular after the close of the deal, expected in the fourth quarter. Marick will remain a substantial shareholder of the company and will retain his seat on its board of directors.
"John and the Consumer Cellular team have built a tremendous business that is well-positioned for long-term success," GTCR managing director David Donnini said in a press release. "The entire Consumer Cellular organization should be proud of the business they have built. We look forward to Ed working with the Company and its employees to continue Consumer Cellular's legacy of growth and innovation."
According to reports, GTCR beat out bidders including Dish Network, Altice USA and a group led by Boost Mobile founder Peter Adderton.
"I am excited to partner again with GTCR and look forward to continuing Consumer Cellular's mission of providing its customers with exceptional service and competitively priced wireless plans," Evans said in the press release. "GTCR brings significant resources and experience in building industry-leading companies and together we expect to further grow Consumer Cellular's subscriber base and expand its services offering.”
Credit Suisse and Raymond James served as financial advisors and Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal advisor to GTCR. BofA Securities served as exclusive financial advisor and Kell, Alterman & Runstein, LLP served as legal advisor to Consumer Cellular.
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Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.
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