Sweden-headquartered Tele2 has sold its loss-making French MVNO venture to Virgin Mobile for SEK575 million (US$83 million). The network had approximately 429,000 customers as at end-June 2009. Britain’s Carphone Warehouse owns 48.5 percent of Virgin Mobile France and the business is operated by Omer Telecom, a joint venture between Carphone, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Mobile France chief executive Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux. Carphone said the deal will take the total number of Virgin Mobile France customers to more than 1.6 million. “The Tele2 France deal marks a major step forward in Virgin Mobile’s growth plans in France and will help it progress towards its target of being profitable during 2010 and its ambition of having more than 2 million customers,” Carphone said in a statement. “The acquisition will allow Virgin Mobile to reduce its operating costs by strengthening its relationship with the network operators, and will also help cut costs and drive major economies of scale.” The deal will make Virgin Mobile France the country’s largest MVNO and fourth-largest operator, behind established players Bouygues, Orange and SFR.
Tele2 will take a goodwill impairment charge of about SEK526 million in the third quarter as a result of the deal. According to Wireless Intelligence, Tele2 has sought to sell many of its European MVNOs in recent years and now has just one MVNO in operation (in the Netherlands).