OneTel for sale

Any takers?

Centrica - which owns British Gas - has confirmed it plans to flog-off its OneTel telecoms business.

The UK utility wants to concentrate on its energy operations and will use the cash from the sale of OneTel to invest in this business.

In a statement today the company said: "Although the ability to offer a telecoms solution to our customers remains important, as part of focusing our capital and resources on energy and related home services we have now commenced the process to dispose of the Onetel business."

Speculation that Centrica was planning to unbundle its telecoms business surfaced at the weekend with reports suggesting that the company had already been contacted by potential buyers.

A spokeswoman for OneTel told us that while the company had received approaches in the past, there were no active discussions underway at the moment.

She declined to name any companies that had shown an interest in the past except to say that they were both "trade and financial buyers".

OneTel has 1.4m fixed line customers and 1.7m if you include mobile and business users. Turnover for the first six months of the year rose 24 per cent to £162m but that includes increased revenue from recent acquisitions and the fact that British Gas phone customers have now been wrapped into the OneTel business.

Despite this increase in revenue the combined telecoms business made a loss of £2m in H1 compared to breaking even 12 months earlier. ®

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