For Sale signs removed at Data Select


George McPherson’s claim that the distributor is not for sale suggests owner Peter Jones may just hang on to the business after all

Phones International CEO George McPherson’s forthright declaration that “there is no for sale sign” hanging on the door of Data Select is the latest twist in a saga that has kept the mobile industry enthralled over the last seven months.

But McPherson’s comments are a little hard to take. The company even went to great lengths, at a recent partner event, to dismiss press reports by displaying a large image of a headline and stating the “trade press has had a great time at our expense”.

But there is no smoke without fire. Up until this month Data Select has, officially at least, remained silent on the continued speculation surrounding its future.

But internally it’s a different story. We know owner Peter Jones came within a whisker of handing the keys to Brightstar, only for the deal to fall through at the final hour. And further reports seeping from its Slough office said staff were told commercial officer Roy Taylor wanted to invest.

Sources who claim to know Jones personally have stated his intentions to sell for years. And in August a national newspaper interviewed him after he sold his M2M business Wireless Logic, where he stated he wanted to offload Data Select to fund a £100 million war chest. It didn’t sound like a company off the market.

So what’s changed? What we do now know is that during all these reports, Nokia was reviewing its distribution strategy, and its decision to cut Data Select will
have devalued the business.

McPherson’s comments regarding acquisitions within the next three to six months suggest Jones is looking to hang on to the business for now, rather than sell it off for a knock-down price.