Buyout firms push up Caudwell price to £1.5bn

Mobile phone company founder John Caudwell has sold out to private equity netting more for his stake in the business than analysts had predicted for the entire group.

Doughty Hanson and Providence Equity Partners, two buyout firms, have bought Caudwell Group, a UK mobile phone retailer, for a total consideration of £1.46 billion ($2.79 billion; €2.17 billion).

Under the terms of the acquisition Doughty Hanson will retain the 20:20 Logistics Distribution Group, to be renamed the 20-20 Mobile Group, and Providence Equity Partners will acquire the Phones4U Group, the retail chain.

Caudwell: achieved a fair price

John Caudwell, chairman and chief executive, said the sale process had attracted interest from a large number of bidders and it had achieved a fair price.

The result was higher than analysts’s predictions of a price range for the group between £800 million and £1.1 billion, netting £1.2 billion for Caudwell’s 85 percent share of the business. His brother Brian owns 10 percent and Craig Bennett, finance director, has a 5 percent stake.

Caudwell said the group had delivered another year of excellent trading performance, which was good for its future prospects. He was confident the company’s management would ensure further growth in the coming months under the new ownership.

“Selling the business will allow me to spend more time fulfilling personal ambitions, more time with my family and more time working with my charity. However, I also have a number of investment and commercial plans in the pipeline, which will allow me to maintain some interests in the business world,” he said.

The Caudwell Group was put up for sale on 9 November 2005. The deal is
expected to close in September, subject to regulatory approval.

NM Rothschild were the deal advisers and the solicitors were Eversheds.