Vodafone disposes of minority stake in Fónua Limited

Operator sold 49% stake in mobile phone distributor to Don Maher and Fergus de Búrca

Vodafone Ireland quietly sold its stake in the country's biggest mobile phone distributor Fónua Limited for an undisclosed sum to a company owned by a former board member late last year.

The operator, which held a 49 per cent stake in Fónua Limited, sold its shareholding to Fonua's biggest shareholders Don Maher and Fergus de Búrca via the firm's parent Corstrom in December 2016.

A spokeswoman for Vodafone Ireland declined to comment on the deal apart from saying that it was of mutual benefit to both companies.

Mr Maher, Fónua’s chairman, and Mr de Búrca, the company’s managing director, previously led a management buyout and rebrand of the company in 2010. Mr Maher was an executive director at Vodafone Ireland between 2006 and early 2011.

Fónua ships more than 2.5 million handsets and carries out over 240,000 repairs annually through its Sandyford-based Fónfix business. The company has an estimated 60 per cent market share in mobile handset distribution and a 70 per cent share in handset repairs.

Supplies handsets

Founded in 1997, Fónua previously traded as 20:20 Logistics and was part of the Caudwell Group until 2006, when it became a unit of UK-based 20:20 Mobile.

Corstrom acquired the majority stake in the group following the buyout. It. now own 100 per cent of Fónua Limited.

Fónua, which currently employs more than 200 people, supplies handsets and accessories to all the leading Irish mobile network operators, as well as to major retail chains such as Dixons Carphone, Tesco and Harvey Norman.

Accounts filed at the Companies Registration Office earlier this week reveal management at Fónua shared a €1.5 million dividend last year on the back of a slight rise in profits.

Fónua reported €5.6 million pretax profit for the 12 months ending June 30th 2016, up from €5.3 million a year earlier. Revenues slipped to €307.9 million from €308.9 million as operating profits rose to €6.2 million.

A breakdown of turnover reveals €256.8 milllion derived from Ireland with a further €40 million coming from the rest of Europe.

Shareholders’ funds totalled €25 million in the 12 months to the end of June, up from €22 million a year earlier.

Staff costs, including wages and salaries, totalled €10.6 million. Directors’ remuneration, including pension costs were €1.03 million.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist