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Chess Telecom snaps up Avenir airtime business

Steve Bell

IT and fixed line provider Chess Telecom has acquired the UK airtime business of Avenir Telecom a retailer and distributor of mobile phones, subscriptions and accessories.

The acquisition brings revenues of £22 million to Chess’s books and a further 55 employees who will be incorporated into the Chess fold, taking the firm's headcount to almost 300, and the Avenir team will continue to work out of their Hertfordshire offices.

The acquisition also brings Chess’s tally to over 80 companies bought since 2001, an average of seven a year, with turnover rocketing from £1m in 2001 to more than £44m in 2013.

The move is designed to strengthen the mobile and partner services division of Chess. and  Richard Btesh, director at the firm, said: “Over the years we have often been approached by sellers of mobile customer bases, but this is the first opportunity we’ve had to acquire a solid market leader that gives Chess a real opportunity for partner and mobile growth.” 

The acquisition has led to Chess creating a new division, Chess Partner Services, which is tasked with developing airtime business. This division will provide end-to-end processing and support service to partners wanting to offer mobile and fixed line telecom services. Avenir’s former managing director, Andy Tow, is heading up the new division.

The deal follows months of denials from Avenir that its airtime division was for sale.  During this time Tow issued a declaration to its staff and 500 dealers that it was not on the market.

However earlier this year, Avenir founder Jean-Daniel Beurnier strongly hinted that the airtime business was up for sale and cited falling prices and margins in the airtime space as well as the rising number of SIM only handsets being bought in the UK.

Last month Chess acquired IT and telecoms supplier Integra ICT and in the past has gobbled up The CRM Business, Microsoft’s European partner for CRM Online and eBillz, a billing provider.


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