Advantage Cellular goes under – Hyundai Mobile distribution hangs in balance

Phones remained unanswered at Advantage Cellular this afternoon as staff were sent home this morning following the removal of the company’s financial backing last week.

Advantage Cellular’s Polish backer, the billionaire, Roman Karkosik, has withdrawn his funding from the company. As a result, no dealers were paid by Advantage Cellular last week, many staff left the building on Friday, and those that turned up to work this morning were sent home.

For Hyundai Mobile, following its statement of intent to launch its handset ranges into the UK by May this year, Advantage’s collapse spells trouble. Hyundai Mobile has been partnering with Advantage, using the company’s offices in Didcot, Oxfordshire, as a base for its UK operations and distribution; Graham Jelfs, head of marketing and communications for Hyundai Mobile UK, is an ex-Advantage employee.

Commenting anonymously on the sudden demise of Advantage, a spokesperson for a main UK distributor told Mobile Business that they are looking into backing their business into the void at Hyundai Mobile UK, to replace Advantage. The distributor also stated that there may be other parts of Advantage worth picking over, but they refused to comment further on the area pending further discussions with involved parties.

The situation at Advantage has been rocky for some time. In summer 2008, managing director and co-founder of the business, John McFarnon, was accused of VAT fraud. At the end of last year, sales director Frank Masson left the business to move to another company, while Simon Earle, co-founder, also left recently, and Graham Jelfs moved to Hyundai Mobile.

Mobile Business is currently waiting for comment from both companies on the situation.