20:20 Mobile’s owners have rejected the advances of Data Select owner Peter Jones to buy the business.
It puts an end to the proposed purchase by Jones’ firm Phones International for the entire 20:20 Mobile group.
It is understood that a letter was sent this Tuesday from Jones to the five lead banks in 20:20’s debt syndicate, along with 20:20’s current owner Doughty Hanson, tabling an offer to buy the business. The offer was immediately declined.
It follows a verbal offer for the business earlier in the month - Monday 16 June - from Jones, who partnered one of the principal banks in the syndicate to take over 20:20, also rejected at the time by the rest of the banks in the syndicate and Doughty, according to 20:20 CEO Meinie Oldersma.
The bid from Phones International was been criticised by a source close to the business as ‘an opportunistic and unrealistic bid’, calling into question whether it was genuine or simply a means to destabilise rival 20:20.
Oldersma meanwhile said: ‘It was an unsolicited offer, and although I understand the reasons behind it, the company is simply not for sale. We are re-financing at the moment.’
The restructuring of the looming debt hanging over the company is expected to be finalised next week, and will calm nerves within the 20:20 business.
There are 22 banks in the syndicate, with five of them constituting the lead banks in the steering group.
Under the proposed restructure, Doughty Hanson would no longer be the sole shareholder, but would handover 50% equity in the company to the syndicate in exchange for removing £175m of 20:20’s debt. It brings the debt down from £265m to £90m.
Doughty Hanson bought 20:20 Mobile for £347m from John Caudwell in September 2006, and borrowed cash for the acquisition from principal investors, RBS and Mizuho.