John Caudwell, the founder of Phones4U, on Wednesday placed the Caudwell Group, owner of the mobile phone retailer, on the block.

Caudwell on Wednesday said that since initiating a recent strategic review, by Rothschild, it had received “many approaches from buyers interested in acquiring all or part of the group” and had decided to put the entire business up for sale.

“The hands-on contribution required from me as the principal shareholder is …now more limited and I have, as a result, decided to invite offers for the group,” added Mr Caudwell, who is chairman and chief executive and owns 85 per cent of the privately-held group.

Although Mr Caudwell would not name his price he compared the value of Phones4U favourably with that of rival Carphone Warehouse, which is worth about £1.9bn. He was adamant that Caudwell would be sold as a whole.

“I strongly believe the group has enormous potential for further growth in the UK and internationally,” he added.

Caudwell, founded by Mr Caudwell and his brother in 1987, has grown rapidly to become a familiar name on UK high streets with more than 350 Phones4U stores. The group has a combined annual turnover of more than £2bn and employs 8,500 people.

The 53 year old former car salesman is one of the UK’s wealthiest men following the sale of Singlepoint, a customer billing business, to Vodafone for £405m in 2003.

Mr Caudwell said he would be taking “a bit of a breather” before setting up another business.

Steve Davies, an analyst at Numis Securities, said Carphone was not likely to bid for the whole of the Caudwell empire as it already had stores in many of the same locations, although he said it might be interested in Caudwell’s fixed-line business. Mr Davies added that private equity groups might be interested.

Carphone shares were trading 2 per cent lower at 211½p in early afternoon trade.

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