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Mobile phone giant snaps up last of the big UK independents

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Cellnet made a Warrington businessman a millionaire when it bought his mobile phone company for £130 million. Martin Dawes, for it was he, sold his 54 per cent stake in Cheshire-based Martin Dawes Telecommunications, to the telecomms giant yesterday. The company that started as a television rentals group in the 1960s has now made him around £70 million richer. The agreement was finalised after four months of negotiations. Dawes, 55, was also understood to have held talks with Vodafone, according to today's Guardian newspaper. The family business moved into mobile phones in 1985, when the cell phone industry was in its infancy. It expanded to a £350 million enterprise, with 15 shops and employing around 1,300 staff including Dawes' son and daughter. At the time of the sale, France Telecom owned 36 per cent of the company, with the rest distributed between the other directors. Yesterday's acquisition involved 800,000 customers, 660,000 on the Vodafone network and 140,000 on Cellnet. The company will continue to offer Vodafone services. Martin Dawes Telecommunications was the last remaining independent service provider of significant size. And as for Dawes himself, a spokesperson said he would not be sitting back and enjoying his fortune. "Mr Dawes has not made this money to retire to a Caribbean island. He will certainly continue in business," she said. ®

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