EE, Vodafone to buy almost 200 Phones 4U stores

EE and Vodafone UK are to acquire almost 200 Phones 4U stores between them after EE confirmed on Monday it has agreed to buy 58 of the bankrupt mobile phone retailer's shops.

Vodafone UK announced on Friday it has agreed to purchase 140 Phones 4U shops.

The moves by the two operators come amid growing criticism of their role in the collapse of Phones 4U, which was forced into administration on Sept. 14 after both operators decided not to renew contracts for the sale of network airtime and devices through the retailer. EE was the last to leave.

Phones 4U administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) confirmed that the deal agreed with EE will see the mobile operator pay £2.5 million (€3.2 million) to acquire 58 Phones 4U stores, safeguarding a number of jobs.

The deal remains subject to court approval of the release of the fixed charge security held on behalf of the secured creditors. The administrators will be making an application to the Court on Sept. 22 for the release of the fixed charge security that will enable the sale to be completed.

"We can confirm that we have agreed with the Phones 4U administrator to purchase 58 stores, safeguarding 359 jobs, subject to court approval," said EE in a statement.

The acquired stores and employees will be transferred to EE with immediate effect. Shops are currently being rebranded and will mostly be opened over the course of the next week.

Rob Hunt, joint administrator and PwC partner, said: "We are absolutely delighted to have completed this further disposal of 58 Phones 4U stores, which will both recover value for secured creditors and save 359 jobs. As with the Vodafone transaction, we consider that this represents the best potential outcome for creditors in the circumstances for these stores, although it remains subject to the approval of the UK courts."

On Friday, PwC said Vodafone UK had agreed to take on 140 of former Phones 4U stores, saving 887 jobs, while a further 628 staff would be made redundant.

Dixons Carphone is also in talks with PwC to acquire Phones 4U shops. The retailer should make an announcement soon, according to Bloomberg.

Phones 4U owned around 700 shops and concessions and employed 5,600 people when PwC became its administrator earlier in September.

For more:
- read this Vodafone statement
- see this Reuters story
- see this Bloomberg article

Related Articles:
Phones 4U ceases trading after EE and Vodafone terminate contracts
EE launches new SIM-only LTE plans; extends Cash on Tap to London's tube
Vodafone to launch mobile wallet in the UK in October
EE puts its money on Cash on Tap, as Quick Tap bows out
EE subscribers threaten to quit over call centre priority service