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Caudwell Group has good offers, says founder

Caudwell Group has good offers, says founder

LONDON: Caudwell Group, the holding company for mobile phone retail chain Phones 4U and cellular phone distributor 20:20 Logistics, may finally get acquired by a bidder. Its founder, multi-billionaire John Caudwell, says he has received strong bids from private equity groups and that he would finalise on a deal in a few months.

Caudwell, who founded the company in1987, had put it on block in November last year, wanting to exit the business and take up a new one and also charity.

The company is a major player in the telecoms services sector and in the distribution and repair of cellular phones. It is roughly valued around 800 million pounds.

Except saying that the potential bidders are mostly private equity groups, Caudwell did not name any of the suitors. The process has reached the second round after a pre-selection of the bidders.

The company turned out sterling performance in 2005. It announced Thursday earnings before interest, tax and amortization of 149 million pounds on sales of 2.12 billion pounds. Analysts had predicted the company’s profits to be around 115 million pounds and revenue of more than 2 billion pounds.

Nearly half of Phones4U’s new contract customers opted for 3G phones in 2005, giving it a 30 per cent share of the market over the year. New connections went up 12 per cent overall — 42 per cent up in the fourth quarter.

The company said 20:20 Logistics, the world’s largest mobile phone distributor, saw its profits go up 41 per cent during the year.

Caudwell, one-time auto-parts salesman, who graduated to sell mobile phones and founded the empire, buying 26 phones from Motorola, has said he is planning to circumnavigate the globe by s yacht once the deal is through. He is, however, not going to budge if the bids are too low, he has clarified. He hopes that the latest figures will weigh on the bidders in quoting a reasonable sale price.

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