Phones4U chief sells up for £1.46 billion


Phones4U owner John Caudwell has announced that he his to sell his mobile phone retail and distribution business to two private equity groups for a combined £1.46 billion.

The billionaire, ranked as Britain's 29th richest person by the Sunday Times, said that Caudwell Holdings would be sold to Doughty Hanson and Providence Equity Partners.

Under the terms of the deal, Providence Equity will assume control of the company's Phones4U division, which includes more than 350 retail stores across the UK. Providence will also acquire the insurance division Lifestyle Services and a separate business-to-business operation.

Doughty Hanson will purchase Caudwell's Crewe-based 20:20 Logistics arm, the world's largest distributor of mobile phone handsets. The company will also assume control of Dextra Solutions, which distributes mobile phone accessories.

Mr Caudwell, who founded his mobile phone business in 1987, placed his company up for sale in November, following a strategic review.

Under the takeover deal announced yesterday, he is expected to receive £1.24 billion for his 85 per cent stake in Caudwell Holdings, with the remaining share owned by his brother Brian and finance director Craig Bennett.

The move to sell the business follows the £40 million sale of the group's fixed-line service, Caudwell Communications, to Pipex, in March.

Commenting on the sale of the remaining part of his company, Mr Caudwell said that he has got a "fair price" but "not a great price" for the mobile phone business.

"The business has such a lot of further potential going forward and there is no doubt that the buyers will make a very substantial profit," he said.

The sale of the Stoke-on-Trent-based firm is expected to be complete in September, subject to regulatory approval.

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