Brightstar set to buy Data Select?

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Speculation mounts that Brightstar Europe is close to purchasing rival distributor from its founder Peter Jones

Brightstar Europe is understood to be on the verge of acquiring Data Select from founder Peter Jones (pictured), with sources claiming the final stages of due diligence are taking place.

Such a deal would make Brightstar the sole UK distributor, with direct relationships with all handset manufacturers. Data Select shipped about three million handsets last year, accounting for 10 per cent of the UK market.

Brightstar would also get a strong hold in the B2B mobile dealer market, which represents two-thirds of Data Select’s revenues, as well as inheriting its major value-added fulfilment accounts such as Argos, Asda, QVC, Vodafone, Amazon and Lebara.

Data Select is understood to have had discussions with potential buyers including Brightstar, Micro-P and Vodafone. All these organisations have declined to comment. A possible management buyout at Data Select is also on the cards.

Details on price remain clouded. Based on a profit multiplier of three, this would put a likely acquisition price in the ballpark of £15 million.

The prospect of a Brightstar takeover was being openly discussed by several senior industry personnel at the Mobile News Awards on March 17.

At the launch of the JCB Toughphone range in November, Data Select chairman Peter Jones told Mobile News he remained committed to the company he founded in 1998.

But sources within Data Select claim they have not seen Jones in its new Slough location since the move from Marlow last June. Their confidence has also fallen as staff numbers fell from 175 to a head-count of 150. Investment in the company to aid future growth is also understood to have dropped.

Jones, has also been absent from Data Select’s Platinum Club dealer events for the past year or so.

Data Select’s profitable prepay SIM business and its web design company PJ Media were sold to online retailer Expansys last year for £38 million.

Both Brightstar and Data Select refused to comment on rumour and speculation.

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