Administrator PwC hire legal firm to look into conduct of Phones 4u owners and mobile networks
Phones 4u administrator Pricewaterhouse Coopers has appointed US law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart to investigate the behaviour of the major players involved in the collapse of the retailer in September.
PwC confirmed that it has asked Quinn Emanuel to look into the conduct of Phones 4u directors and mobile networks Vodafone and EE, whose decision to withdraw from the retailer led to its demise.
Phones 4u went in to administration on September 14 after EE informed the retailer it would not extend it’s distribution agreement. The news came less than a month after Vodafone also announced plans to withdraw it’s presence, and Phones 4u was left without any network agreements.
EE informed Phones 4u that it would not be extending the agreement on September 12 and, on September 15, staff were told to go home, as more than 700 stores were told to remain shut, jeapordising more than 5000 jobs.
Since Phones 4u shut, EE, Vodafone and Dixons Carphone have bought up Phones 4u assets, including MVNO Life Mobile (EE) and a number of its former stores, saving around 2,000 jobs.
Quinn Emanuel will be tasked with considering the actions of directors and officers of companies involved and that of any stakeholders prior to PwC’s appointment.
Investors lost around £430 million worth of Phones 4u bonds because of the collapse, which caused 360 store closures when not including those that were purchased.
Following the administration, Phones 4u founder John Caudwell said blamed a combination of the private equity strategy of owners BC partners and the “astonishingly ruthless” networks of “killing” Phones 4u.
Caudwell, who sold the firm he had set up in Staffordshire in the 1980s to BC Partners for £1.5 billion in 2006, claimed Vodafone and EE had withdrawn in order to reduce competition in the market.
However, an EE source disputed this. As Mobile News exclusively reported, the source accused Phones 4u executives of walking away from the negotiating table on July 31 after the network refused to match the commission rates Phones 4u was demanding.