Entrepreneur lands £30m Centrica windfall

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A North London entrepreneur was £30m richer yesterday after agreeing to sell his telecoms business to the energy and home services giant Centrica.

The owner of the British Gas brand is paying £43m for Telco Global, a residential and business telecoms supplier set up in 1996 by Asher Gratt. It is also taking on £1.2m of debt.

Mr Gratt controls about 70 per cent of the company, with the remainder owned by his business partner Bernard Lebrecht, who is based in Manchester.

This is the second fortune Mr Gratt has made from Telco Global. Two years after founding the business he sold out to Viatel for £8m but then bought the business back in 2001, since when it has more than quadrupled its turnover.

Telco Global will add 238,000 residential fixed-line customers, 11,000 fixed-line business customers and 10,000 mobile customers to Centrica's telecoms division. It will become part of One.Tel, which has 1.1 million customers. In total, Centrica Telecommunications has 1.5 million customers.

In 2002/03, Telco Global, based in Enfield, north London, made a profit of £4.8m on sales of £233m.

Centrica said the acquisition would strengthen its presence in the business sector of the telecoms market and enable it to expand into services such as international pre-paid phone cards.