The Times has reported that Bain Capital and Doughty Hanson, the private equity groups, are in exclusive negotiations to buy the Caudwell group, the phone empire of billionaire tycoon John Caudwell, for about £1 billion.
The phone group, whose companies include the Phones 4 U chain, is understood to be just weeks away from an announcement about a deal with the two groups, which saw off competition from rival private equity consortium, Providence and CVC. Though the pricing was unclear last night, negotiations are thought to be not far off the £1 billion mark.
The deal — which could yet fall through — will seal a huge payout for Caudwell who owns 85 per cent of the business. His brother, Brian, who owns 10 per cent, and the group’s finance director, Craig Bennett, who owns 5 per cent, will also secure payouts.
The phone empire, which also includes 20:20 Logistics, a handset distribution division, and Dextra, a mobile accessories distribution business, was founded by the Caudwell brothers in 1987 as Midland Mobile Phones.