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Truphone sale halted amid security probe

Megan Robinson
July 20, 2022

It has not been reported why the review is taking place, or how long it will last

The sale of UK eSIM company Truphone has been issued an interim order by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The order was made under the UK’s new National Security and Investment Act, meaning that prospective buyers Hakan Koç and Pyrros Koussios cannot buy the company until a review is completed.

The act gives the government the right to block deals that it believes poses a threat to national security, and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is understood to have signed off on the decision, according to reports.

Mobile News detailed the reported £1 Truphone sale last issue (718), caused by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, part-owner of the business, having sanctions imposed upon him.

People with knowledge of the deal believe the order is linked to Truphone holding a contract with BT that grants users access to their digital SIM card remotely.

However, it is understood that the prospective owners have suggested they would exclude this contract when buying Truphone’s assets and avoid any contracts that could be a national security concern.

It was reported that Koç and Koussios’ lawyers have written to the government’s Investment Security Unit stating that the interim order could lead to the company being put into administration, causing many job losses.

A government spokesperson commented: “While commercial transactions remain primarily a matter for the parties involved, the government routinely monitors acquisitions across the economy in case of national security concerns.

“The Business Secretary has powers under the National Security and Investment Act to intervene in acquisitions where necessary.”

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