Phones4U has selected a
'small number' of bidders to go through to the second round of its sale
process, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Private equity firms
including Blackstone Group and BC Partners are said to be among the remaining
bidders. Interested parties including Vodafone and Everything Everywhere are
said to have dropped out of the race.
Phones 4U’s owner, Providence
Equity Partners, hired Deutsche Bank to launch an auction last month.
The high street mobile
phone retailer was bought by Providence
in 2006, from founder John Caudwell. Caudwell sold the distribution and
logistics business, 20:20, to Doughty Hanson, as part of the same transaction
for £1.46bn in total, according to previous reports.
Under Providence’s ownership the buyout debt has
been cut to £184 million from £500 million and the company generated £126
million in earnings before, interest, tax, depreciation and amortization for
the year ended 30 September 2010. Expected revenue for 2010 is £850 million.
Analysts are estimating a
sale price of £700m to £800m.