SUITORS picked through the remains of collapsed high street mobile retailer Phones 4u yesterday as administrator PwC entered negotiations with mobile operators and other interested parties over acquiring all or part of the business.
PwC is understood to be looking to reach a deal within a 48-hour window that closes before the end of the week. The assets in question include an inventory of 300,000 smartphones, 550 stores and over 5,000 staff.
EE, Vodafone, Dixons Carphone as well as a number of unnamed international mobile virtual networks who operate in the UK, are all said to be interested in parts of Phones 4u.
Dixons Carphone struck the first deal with administrators yesterday, agreeing to offer roles to the 800 staff employed at the 157 Phones 4u concessions trading within its stores.
PwC partner and joint administrator Rob Hunt said: “This agreement relates solely to staff and does not include the sale of any stock, chattels or the Phones 4u brand name. We’re delighted to reach this agreement, thereby securing continued employment for more than 800 people. We would like to wish the transferring staff all the best in their new roles.”
Phones 4U, founded by John Caudwell, also has two smaller businesses, an insurance business and LIFE mobile, a virtual mobile network that piggybacks onto the EE network.
On the insurance business PwC said to customers yesterday: “Your insurance premiums are safe and we are working with London General to maintain claims and related services under your policy.”
PwC said there has been interest in acquiring the insurance business for its run-off value, and that they have been approached by a possible buyer of LIFE as well.
Both EE and Vodafone declined to comment on their negotiations with PwC.