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Dealer channel to shrink in 2012 as takeover fever grows

Mobile News
February 13, 2012

Top dealers reveal their acquisition strategies as B2B dealer General Telephone Company is sold to fixed-line dealer

The independent mobile dealer base is expected to shrink significantly this year.

So say leading B2B dealers intent on acquiring rival companies to boost their customer numbers and portfolio offering.

Business dealers Phonebox, Premier Mobile, Premier Telecom 21C Telecom, Qualitel, Excalibur, the Word, Barclay Communications and Aerial Telephones have all confirmed they will look to
acquire in the coming months.

Distributors reckon there are less than 1,000 UK mobile comms B2B dealers remaining, with less than 200 of those deemed key.

Acquisitions are expected to come from other non-mobile specific channels.

For example, fixed-line provider Pinnacle Communications last week bought Vodafone platinum partner General Telephone Company (GTC) for an undisclosed fee.

The deal sees Pinnacle enter the mobile market for the first time, with an instant base of 15,000 Vodafone connections.

O2 Centre of Excellence partner Barclay Communications is in talks to acquire an unnamed Vodafone platinum partner.

Qualitel, in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, is planning to buy six mobile dealers over the next two years to gain a national presence. It said it wants at least six satellite offices.

It has recently increased its staff and doubled the capacity of its head office as part of its growth plans.

Qualitel MD Mike Ridgway (pictured top left) told Mobile News: “We want a true national presence. We are growing well organically but we feel its time to form an acquisition plan.”

“We will target partners with a mixed base. Ideally we’d want Vodafone gold and silver partners, but we are independent.”

Phonebox MD Nigel Harrison (pictured bottom left) has a “small war chest” through private equity to acquire other dealers.

“We’re looking to buy out smaller dealers, regardless of network base, but also any complementary businesses that would integrate easily and give us a growth path.”

Premier Telecom CEO Darren Ridge said the company was in takeover talks with a Vodafone gold partner.

Aerial Telephones MD Paul Davis (pictured bottom right) said it is looking to buy mobile and fixed-line partners.

Excalibur Group CEO James Phipps (pictured top right) said he has turned down offers from “dozens” of dealers looking to sell their businesses in the past three years due to disagreements on value.

“A lot of these businesses will have problems as the coming months progress due to cash-flow issues.

“We aim to take advantage of that. I cannot see many partners making long-term commitments and investments as ultimately it is easier to stay as they are.”


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