Carphone Warehouse and Centrica tipped for One.Tel takeover

Senior management at One.Tel UK have told staff that several companies are interested in buying the business, but the two most likely buyers are keeping quiet
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

With the future of troubled Australian telco One.Tel still unclear, it appears that its profitable UK operations will be bought by either Carphone Warehouse or Centrica.

Senior management at One.Tel have told staff that several companies are interested in purchasing the UK business. According to sources within One.Tel, it will come down to a straight fight between service provider Centrica and the Carphone Warehouse Group. Britain is one of the few countries where One.Tel is profitable, which led to talk last month of a possible management buyout.

Rumours were circulating earlier this month that Centrica -- which owns British Gas, the AA and the Goldfish credit card company -- was considering buying One.Tel's UK operations.

Centrica already provides phone and email services through deals with Cable & Wireless, Kingston Communications and Vodafone, but a company spokesman said he was unable to comment on suggestions linking it to a bid for One.Tel.

"There has been lots of speculation recently that we might buy One.Tel, but I'm afraid we have a 'no comment' policy on such rumours," he said, adding that Centrica is regularly rumoured to be buying other companies.

Carphone Warehouse also refused to say whether it was considering a bid for One.Tel. "I'm afraid I don't know anything about that at all, and I've got no information about it," said a company spokeswoman. Carphone Warehouse more than doubled its turnover last year to £1.1bn and last month bought French telco Communications De Mobile Cellulaires SA for £54m.

One.Tel has sacked most of its Australian workforce since going into administration last month with debts of around £200m.

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