West 175 buys into Vodafone dealer

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The Independent Online

West 175, the lifestyle media group, has bought a 49 per cent stake in New Zealand's most successful Vodafone dealership. The deal with Centurion GSM - which has about 20 shops - follows its acquisition last month of New Zealand's leading interactive software retail chain.

West 175, the lifestyle media group, has bought a 49 per cent stake in New Zealand's most successful Vodafone dealership. The deal with Centurion GSM - which has about 20 shops - follows its acquisition last month of New Zealand's leading interactive software retail chain.

These deals are also intended to complement West 175's recent purchase of a 60 per cent stake in Actrix, the country's longest-established internet service provider (ISP).

Rohan Courtney, chairman of West 175, said: "This deal represents the fusion of digital telephony with the internet. Since Vodafone is the largest supplier of mobile phones in the world, the potential for these business activities around the world are great."

Elsewhere, West 175 is better-known for the valuable portfolio of television rights it has acquired, notably the American version of Masterchef which is fronted by Gary Rhodes. It also has significant TV interests in Canada and Australasia.

The AIM-quoted company's ambitions were demonstrated in August when a successful fundraising added another 50 per cent to its market capitalisation.

The shares closed on Friday at 2181/2p, less than half January's high of 4731/2p. Its most recent annual results showed a loss of £3.7m on sales of £4m.

Its Antipodean slant stems from John McEwen, its chief executive who originally hails from New Zealand.

Mr Courtney himself spent part of his career working in Australia. West 175's board is also graced by the presence of the legendary TV inquisitor, Sir David Frost.

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