Carphone Warehouse looking to divest stake in French MVNO; co-owner Virgin Group considers future plans

26 Mar 2014

UK-based Carphone Warehouse Group, the co-owner of French mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Omea Telecom (incl. Virgin Mobile), is reportedly planning to sell its stake in the company, French newspaper Le Figaro reports. According to the article, the retailer’s decision has prompted its partner, the Virgin Group to consider its own investment in the MVNO. It is reported that the owners initially offered their shares to SFR, upon whose network Virgin Mobile piggybacks, although negotiations between the two sides stalled over price. Although the introduction of a new strategic partner has been mooted, Virgin Group is also said to be considering staging an initial public offering (IPO) of the MVNO’s shares.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Virgin Mobile is owned by the Carphone Warehouse Group (46%), Richard Branson’s Virgin Group (46%) and the company’s management, via Financom (8%). At end-March 2013 (most recent data) Carphone Warehouse reported that Virgin Mobile accounted for a total of 1.71 million subscribers, down from 1.92 million year-on-year. Despite the slump, the company claims to be France’s largest MVNO by subscribers.

France, Omea Telecom (incl. Virgin Mobile), SFR, Virgin Group