James Ashton: Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail - another unequal marriage?

My Week

As Sir Charles Dunstone and Sebastian James played happy families at the top of the Shard on Thursday, I was racking my brain for a merger of equals that has succeeded in being just that. Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail have had almost three months since talks were disclosed in late February to dial up an ideal management structure for this hi-tech, high street giant with 2,900 stores in at least nine countries. Yet they managed to unveil a classic fudge.

I counted one chairman, two deputy chairmen, a chief executive, a deputy chief executive and two UK chief executives. Combining the top mobile phone seller and electricals expert squeezes out competitors and should squeeze better deals from smartphone and tablet suppliers, but directors have yet to put the squeeze on themselves. It won't last. To drive any business forward requires one prevailing culture and strategy, one person who is undeniably in charge. There is no time in the commercial world for tiptoeing around.

The all-smiles start to any merger of equals quickly dissipates, not least because shareholders order egotistical managers to sort themselves out. More than a decade ago, Fidelity's Anthony Bolton orchestrated the exit of Michael Green from ITV just as the company was being created from the merger of Carlton and Granada, leaving Charles Allen as top dog. It was a similar story when Classic FM's owner GWR merged with Capital Radio.

Nor did Mick Davis last long working with his former student Ivan Glasenberg when Glencore was finally reunited with the miner Xstrata, created from the commodities trader's unloved coal division. The proposal of a ludicrous £30m no-strings retention package might have had something to do with the outcome.

The only successful merger of equals I can think of is when the mobile phone firm EE was forged by combining T-Mobile and Orange's UK arms. But even that business began life with a top-heavy management team and took a long time to gain traction.

Dixons' Mr James described himself as the "blushing bride" in this week's marriage. Mr Dunstone holds a 12 per cent stake in the new business, so it's a fair guess that several members of the Dixons team will soon be free to hunt for new beaux.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory