The £58m deal makes Centrica the largest provider of indirect telecoms services in the UK with around one million active customers.
One.Tel Limited, which went into administration on 29 May 2001, will continue trading under the same name.
One.Tel was launched as a stand-alone business from its Australian parent in 1998 and, like Centrica, is a reseller or virtual network operator, with limited infrastructure ownership. The company was set up by the sons of media tycoons Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer, who together invested A$900m into the telecom giant in 1995.
Centrica has been restructuring its business, adding telecoms to its gas and electricity services and One.Tel’s customer base is seen by some as a way for Centrica to expand internationally. The acquisition, which was advised by Ernst & Young, will also give the company control of the One.Tel brand in Europe and North America.
The Australian division of One.Tel entered administration in May after a due diligence investigation by auditor E&Y found a planned rights issue of $132m (Pounds 92m) would fail to keep the company solvent, and could, therefore, not proceed.
Chris Watson, managing director of One.Tel UK, described the deal as very good news and said: ‘We are committed to working with Centrica to grow this profitable business.’
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