Consumer Cellular Sells Majority Stake to Private Equity Firm GTCR

GTCR, the Chicago-based private equity group, is buying a majority stake in Consumer Cellular Inc., the wireless company that’s popular with customers over age 50.

The deal values the closely held mobile company at roughly $2 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. John Marick, the carrier’s co-founder and chief executive officer, declined to disclose the terms.

Consumer Cellular, which was founded in Portland, Oregon, has no physical stores. The company sells wireless service using capacity from bigger mobile companies. It is focused on people age 50 and over, offering handsets that include flip phones with oversize buttons. The service has about 4 million subscribers, according to a statement.

Wireless executive Ed Evans will become CEO, though Marick said he will keep a board seat. Founded in 1995, Consumer Cellular has nearly 2,000 employees at offices in Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona; and Portland and Redmond, Oregon.

“We felt we could truly go through a smooth transition,” Marick said.

BofA Securities acted as exclusive financial adviser to Consumer Cellular. Kell, Alterman & Runstein LLP served as legal adviser. Credit Suisse and Raymond James served as financial advisers to GTCR, while Kirkland & Ellis LLP provided legal counsel.

GTCR has traditionally focused on five sectors: technology, business services, media and telecommunications, health care and financial services and technology. In July, the company agreed to sell Optimal Blue, a digital marketplace for mortgages, and in June announced the purchase of software maker Citra Health Solutions.

Past Investments

GTCR has experience with wireless services for seniors: It previously ran GreatCall, which was sold to Best Buy Co. in 2018. GreatCall offers emergency-response services that seniors can use if they fall or feel unwell.

Consumer Cellular could introduce a slew of new telehealth services that help seniors remain independent longer, David Donnini, a managing director at GTCR, said in an interview.

“We can take some of the things we learned from that experience and bring them to Consumer Cellular,” he said. “There are other services to offer to seniors.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.