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How to prepare for an orderly exit

Four exit options – with some quick tips on how to prepare

1. Acquisition

“The most natural exit for an MVNO is to be acquired by their hosting MNO. This can be tricky. The ownership changes. You need an excellent lawyer and an exceptionally strong agreement in place. But if this works, then the money is very good.”

2. IPO

“Financing plus exit, or an IPO, is where you use money from investors to keep your company running, but after a few years you and your shareholders sell everything. Mobile Vikings in Belgium started like this. Simio in Germany is another example – they expanded internationally this way.”

3. M&A transactions

“A merge could see an MVNO with fantastic ideas come together with an MNO to help meet their needs. Because MNOs are of course always looking for more and more customers. We’ve seen two of these take place in the last few months alone. The first was Mobile X. Mobile X is essentially owned by the founder

of Boost Mobile Australia. He is in the States and had launched Mobile X over there in a beta mode. But because he was so eager to expand internationally, he merged with a company on the Nasdaq. We also had Boost Mobile. Boost was bought by Dish, with a view to putting it on the stock market.”

4. Placing your company on the stock exchange

“I worked on the preparation of the exit of Parlem – a regional operator in Spain. They, over the course of six years, did a really good job. They undertook some crowd funding and secured some family funds and slowly started to attract private equity. Eveready, who also invested in Mass Mobile, was one of the main investors. This means Eveready had two ‘children’, and they sold one to KKR and put the other on the stock exchange. They brought in me and the whole exercise was to prepare the company one year in advance for the exit. This meant cleaning the company inside and out and starting to consider all of the questions that the investors and the stock exchange committee might have.”

Preparation is key

“When I started working with Parlem I found that they had this pizza menu-like offering. They had 75 different plans mixed with fibre, with fibre only, with television, with fixed telephony – I could go on! And the pricing was very similar. It was very close and confusing. What we needed was a clear picture of what was selling best, what was delivering the most profit; what they should push and what they should cut. They had all these legacy plans, but cleaning, which I was brought in to do, means killing legacy. We

had to transfer the customer base from these old products to new and/or existing ones, and cancel the ones that weren’t profitable. It was a vital part of the process.”

Key takeaway: Spend time investigating and assessing the right exit strategy for you and your business, and then enlist the help of experts to effectively prepare.

Summing up

While there’s never been more opportunities for MVNOs, there’s never been more competition, either. Standing head and shoulders above your peers is a necessity today, but, as we’ve seen, there’s a wealth of ways that you can do so.

We heard about why we should start looking beyond demographics, and that it might be time to stop relying on stable, go-to niches. We were told about the need to explore spaces where you can disrupt, and the importance of hyper personalisation, high value digital service segments, timely promotions and the right partners. We also heard time and time again about how simplicity is absolutely vital, as is creating hassle-free user journeys thar are aligned with consumers’ preferred behaviours.

Our customers may be getting more demanding, and we may be facing more challenges than ever before – but these are exciting predicaments and ones that, when addressed correctly, can lead to growth that you

might previously have only ever dreamed of.

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