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Carphone Warehouse heads for velvet divorce

Alex Scroxton

Carphone Warehouse CEO Charles Dunstone has said that the business could be heading for a split as he unveiled the firm's half-yearly results to the end of September.

At the end of what he described as a "very significant" six months, Dunstone heralded a watershed in the evolution of the group, recognising that two very distinct business units had emerged; telephony and broadband services and high street retail.

"The Board has therefore initiated a formal review of the Group's corporate structure and capital requirements, which may lead to a separation of the two businesses. In this instance I would remain closely involved with both companies," said Dunstone, who urged his staff to prepare for a challenging 12 months ahead in the current economic climate.

The move came as the group fell to a six-month net loss of £11m on total sales of £697m, down from £711m during the first half of 2007. However these figures are heavily distorted by the absence of results from Carphone's retail business, now run as a JV with US electricals behemoth Best Buy, which made total sales of £1.6bn, helped along by heavy adoption of Apple iPhones.

Carphone also said that its TalkTalk telephony and broadband unit took a slight hit in the first half following the acquisition of AOL Broadband. The group revealed it had turned up 93,000 AOL customers who were either defunct or had jumped ship to BT and other ISPs following the acquisition. These have now been expunged from its database, resulting in a net decline of 11,000 customers all told.

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