Caudwell to Decide on Deal 4Him

John Caudwell is weighing up three private-equity bids valuing his business empire at about £1 billion.

Last week Caudwell, whose companies include the Phones 4U high-street retail chain, received offers from CVC Capital and Providence Equity Partners; from Warburg Pincus; and from Bain Capital and Nordic Capital. He is expected to enter exclusive negotiations with one of the bidders within the next few weeks.

NM Rothschild, the investment bank conducting the auction, is understood to be satisfied with the level of the offers for the group, which last year recorded earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £161m.

However, sources close to the process cautioned that Caudwell could yet decide to abort the sale if he cannot agree a firm price. Phones 4U, which has more than 350 outlets, aims to open a further 100 shops in Britain this year and to establish retail operations on the Continent.

Caudwell Group also owns a range of companies related to mobile-phone distribution and repairs as well as Caudwell Communications, a fixed-line operation.