Avenir/Voda fixed deal cancelled


Avenir last week claimed it had pulled out of a potential fixed line deal with Vodafone at the last minute for “commercial reasons”.

Avenir has completed a fixed line distribution deal with Carphone Warehouse division Opal Telecom, however, and said it will pursue new fixed line contracts with other operators.

An Avenir spokesman said: “The situation has changed. We have decided to concentrate on Opal and one other. We are not going with Vodafone.

“We didn’t sign the agreement [with Vodafone] and we are not going to. Opal is much more commercially competitive. It is what we want to spend our time on.

“There was no particular value [in the Vodafone contract]. The Opal proposition was stronger in every area.”

Avenir told Mobile News in February it was close to deals with both Opal and Vodafone to provide its ixed line as well as IP services and broadband to its dealer base.

It said the collapse of the Vodafone fixed line deal has nothing to do with its deteriorating relationship with the network operator following the termination of its airtime deal in February.

Meanwhile, Avenir’s training modules with Vodafone have also been shelved, Mobile News understands.

Vodafone had signed off a six-month training programme with Avenir in October, under former managing director Tanny Price.

Those sessions, worth around £50,000, are in doubt given Avenir’s relationship with Vodafone under new management.

Avenir has secured an interim injunction against his predecessor Tanny Price working at Vodafone as head of distribution.

The injunction, filed with the High Court in London on February 23, followed termination of Avenir’s Vodafone distribution licence. It also covers former Avenir head of services Toby Wickenden working at Vodafone service provider Yes Telecom.

A statement from Avenir said it had moved to prevent the pair “acting in breach of their contractual duties owed to Avenir by working for any of Avenir’s competitors”.

Vodafone confirmed it is in “discussions” with Avenir but refused to say any more. Price is not working at her role at Vodafone until conclusion of the legal wrangle.

New Avenir UK managing director Andy Tow (pictured) contends Price had prior knowledge of Vodafone’s action against Avenir, Mobile News understands.

Price took the role of Vodafone head of distribution in January ahead of the sacking of three senior directors (Simon Howitt, Kevan Wakerley and Ray Bell) from Yes Telecom.

Her first job was to revitalise the failing Yes Telecom operation, a direct competitor to Avenir for business contracts. Price has not been at Yes Telecom’s Manchester headquarters since the injunction was granted.

The Avenir statement said: “Avenir’s business success is based on the strength and the quality of its relationships with its network of dealers across the UK.

“The company believes that the activities of Ms Price and Mr Wickenden threatened those relationships, and Avenir has accordingly taken steps to protect itself and its dealers.”

Price was unavailable for comment. Indirect dealers have admitted surprise at Price’s implication in Vodafone’s recent action against Avenir, and Avenir’s decision to take out an injunction against her. “There is much, much more to this,” said one.

Meanwhile, Avenir dealers have been offered an extra £125 commission on Orange  business connections and £100 on O2 deals.

One dealer said: “It’s an attempt to get customers off Vodafone and on to Orange and O2, and to keep them with Avenir. Avenir will lose a lot of Vodafone customers to Yes Telecom; Orange and O2 see this as a great opportunity. It’s a fighting fund.”

Another dealer said: “It’s a big sweetener for me to sign my existing Vodafone customers to Orange and O2 through Avenir.”