Centrica snaps up One.Tel UK

The deal comes as a relief to One.Tel employees who have been in the dark for nearly a month

Service provider Centrica announced on Tuesday that it had bought One.Tel UK for £58m.

Centrica, which owns British Gas and Scottish Gas, the AA and the Goldfish credit card company, already runs a telecoms service through its British Gas Communications arm. The addition of One.Tel UK's 650,000 customers means Centrica now has over one million active telephone customers. One.Tel UK also provides an Internet service to around 100,000 homes.

Sources within One.Tel had already told ZDNet that Centrica was a likely buyer -- but the company was refusing to comment on the matter before today.

In a statement Ian El-Mokadem, managing director of Centrica, said: "We are delighted to acquire a customer-focused telecoms business with a strong brand and a reputation for innovation and technological development." Chris Weston, managing director of One.Tel UK, said that the deal was very good news for his company.

Staff at One.Tel UK, who will be meeting with El-Mokadem and Weston soon, are understood to be relieved that their jobs appear to be safe. One employee told ZDNet that the announcement was a pleasant change from "four weeks of nothing but a few voicemails telling us we will have news soon."

Australian telco One.Tel went into administration last month with debts of around £200m The company is an "indirect telecoms service provider" -- giving a fixed service through a dialling code, dialers or carrier pre-selection.

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