Brightstar confirms interest in acquiring 20:20 Mobile Group

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CEO says Data Select also on radar as firm looks to rebuild European business; firm completes acquisition of London-based recycler Mobile Phone Xchange

Brightstar has confirmed it is evaluating distributors Data Select and 20:20 Mobile Group as part of its European acquisition strategy.

Brightstar has been linked with a number of firms in the UK since it sold its 50 per cent share of Brightstar Europe to JV partner Tech Data – now Tech Data Mobile – for $165 million (£102 million) last month.

In an exclusive interview with Mobile News last week, Brightstar founder and CEO Marcelo Claure (pictured) confirmed 20:20 Mobile and Data Select – which he failed in his attempts to acquire last year – are potential candidates.

Claure was expected to visit 20:20’s head office in Crewe last week.

He said re-establishing Brightstar’s presence in the UK was his number one priority.

Claure added a bid has now been made for a distributor, which he declined to name, and he expects to confirm a number of deals within the next three to four weeks.

New start
Claure said: “We have looked at all potential opportunities and are in the final stages of closing some of them.

“This is a fresh beginning for us. Europe is our number one priority right now, and by the end of this year you should see a very strong Brightstar not only in the UK, but also throughout Europe.

“We have identified several companies we are looking to buy and have now put an offer in for one of them – so in three to four weeks we should be back in the distribution business in Europe.

“20:20 Mobile is one we have looked at and is one of the candidates. We will see what happens.

“We are looking at two different scenarios. We can either buy a company with a wide European reach or buy local distributors and put them all together. We are not interested in any joint ventures. It’s about buying companies and making them better.

“You can be certain Brightstar in Europe will be an important player in this industry this year.

“We are pretty solid financially so we have the necessary means and we are looking at many potential companies in Europe.”

Acquiring 20:20 Mobile would see the number of countries Brightstar operates in increase from around 38 today – following the JV sale – to more than 50.

20:20’s European markets include Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Portugal as well as the UK.

First UK deal
Claure’s comments follow news Brightstar has now acquired London-based recycling firm Mobile Phone Xchange (MPX) for an undisclosed fee.

The family-run firm, formed in 2005, provides recycling  and buy-back services for consumers, retailers and operators across Europe, including Vodafone in the UK and Hungary.

MPX also has an auction house in Hong Kong and a software development team in India.

The business will be rebranded as Brightstar in the coming months and all 30 staff working in the UK office will be retained, Claure confirmed.

Claure hopes the firm will emulate the success of UK insurance firm eSecuritel, which it acquired 18 months ago. He said the firm had 500,000 subscribers at the time of purchase but now has more than three million. Numbers are expected to reach 10 million in the next few years.

He added MPX is now being  integrated into the wider Brightstar business and staff are already busy seeking business opportunities internationally.

Claure said: “We are well known for our aggressive approach and growing the businesses we acquire. We always play to win which is why we are number one in the world in what we do.”

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