Providence, Doughty to pay £1bn for Caudwell Group

Providence Equity Partners and Doughty Hanson, two buyout firms, will buy the Caudwell Group, a UK mobile telephony group which owns the Phones 4 U brand, for £1bn.

Providence Equity Partners, a US private equity firm, and Doughty Hanson, a UK private equity manager, are to buy the Caudwell Group, a UK mobile telephony business, for £1 billion (€1.46 billion).

Phones 4 U: the mobile phone retailer is one of the assets up for sale

The Caudwell Group announced last November that it  was  selling off the entire business, which has a combined annual turnover of over £2 billion and employs 8,500 people. In early June of this year, the Caudwell Group said that it had selected a preferred bidder and entered into exclusivity but declined to name the bidder or bidding group.
The Times, a UK daily, reported today that the Caudwell Group had entered into exclusive negotiations with Doughty Hanson and Bain Capital, a US private equity firm, until Bain Capital pulled out for undisclosed reasons.
John and Brian Caudwell founded the Caudwell Group in 1987 as Midland Mobile Phones, which had developed from a wholesale distributor with turnover of £13 million in 1991 to a mobile communications group with turnover of more than £1 billion by 2000.
The Caudwell Group’s companies include Phones 4 U, a mobile phone retailer, Caudwell Logistics, a logistics provider to retailers, service providers and manufacturers, and Cornerstone Resourcing, a recruitment business.
According to The Times, John Caudwell owns 85 percent of the Caudwell Group, his brother 10 percent and Craig Bennet, the group’s finance director, the balance.
Providence Equity Partners’ previous investments in the telecoms sector include eircom, Consolidated Communications and AT&T Canada.