Andy McNab, the school drop-out turned SAS man and secretive best-selling author, won a different kind of battle yesterday when he scooped £1m from the sale to Tesco of a business he co-founded.
The supermarket giant is paying £4.5m to acquire Mobcast, an ebook firm that it hopes will help its increasingly bitter fight with Amazon.
McNab is best known as the author of the autobiographical Bravo Two Zero and other action thrillers that have already made him a wealthy man. He has now made another fortune from the vicious – if not yet bloody –war between Tesco and the American internet giant for entertainment sales. Tesco fears that Amazon will eventually start selling groceries in the UK – something it already does in a limited way in the US.
Amazon is fearful that supermarket customers will get into the habit of getting nearly all of their shopping needs, including entertainment such as books and movies, from one store like Tesco. Mobcast, which has 130,000 titles for download to tablet computers and mobile phones, was founded by McNab and Tony Lynch in 2007. The pair held a 22 per cent stake in the startup, with McNab's shares registered under a different name.
The true identity of McNab, who was born in 1959, remains something of a mystery. His media appearances always occur with his features heavily obscured or entirely blacked out, supposedly to protect him from terrorists. He did, however, stick his head above the parapet yesterday for long enough to praise the deal. "As an author I always thought the ability to carry your library around and read on all your personal devices would be a huge benefit to all," McNab said. "We have developed a product that makes this possible, and being acquired by Tesco ensures that this original vision will be available to as many people as possible."
McNab joined the SAS in 1984 and served for 10 years including on anti-terrorist and anti-drug operations in the Middle and Far East, South and Central America and Northern Ireland. He has written about his experiences with the SAS in three books: Bravo Two Zero, Immediate Action and Seven Troop. Bravo Two Zero has sold more than 1.7 million copies in the UK alone.
Mobcast does not have to file full accounts with Companies House, owing to its small size. However, in the year to May 2011 it made a net loss of £816,338 for the previous 12 months.
The company has its headquarters in the East London Tech City area.Reuse content