Second fortune for telecoms entrepreneur

Martin Dawes made his second fortune in little more than three years yesterday with the £65m sale of Opal Telecom to Carphone Warehouse. His 35 per cent stake will be worth up to £29m, if the earnouts are included, though he is taking half the sum in Carphone shares and is not involved in the day-to-day running of the business.

In 1999 the reclusive Mr Dawes netted £70m from the £130m sale of his Martin Dawes Telecommunications business, which he started in the mid-1980s, to Cellnet. However, the following year Mr Dawes missed out on another fortune when Opal Telecom was forced to pull its stock market float just as the internet bubble was bursting. The flotation would have valued Opal Telecom at £250m.

Aged 57 and based in Cheshire, Mr Dawes is seen as a low-profile entrepreneur who dresses modestly and avoids the high-living county set. He appears to have followed in his father's footsteps as an entrepreneur who spots mass market opportunities and then sells them to bigger companies.

Fred Dawes built a chain of TV rental shops in the 1960s and then sold then to Radio Rentals in 1969. Radio Rentals turned the 90 stores into the Rumbelows chain. Martin Dawes left school at 16, with no formal qualifications despite a public school education. He joined the family business and, with financial backing from his father, set up on his own in Stockport renting and selling colour televisions.

He still owns a chain of television and electrical equipment shops and a software-for-telecoms industry company.

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