UPDATE 1-Carphone founder to play bigger role in new structure

Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:16am EDT

* Promotes Andrew Harrison to CEO

* Current CEO Roger Taylor to be deputy chairman

* FY headline EPS 12.3 pence vs guidance 11.5-13 pence

* Forecasts 2013-14 EPS of 17-20 pence

* Shares rise up to 3.7 percent

By James Davey

LONDON, June 26 (Reuters) - Carphone Warehouse founder and chairman Charles Dunstone will be more involved in day-to-day management after its move to take control of a European retail venture, it said on Wednesday, as it also promoted Andrew Harrison to become chief executive.

Europe's biggest independent mobile phone retailer agreed in April to buy back U.S. group Best Buy's stake in its CPW Europe retail business for 471 million pounds ($726 million).

"We've got Charles more on the pitch on the back of the acquisition. Clearly he was a bit more removed from the business in the days of the joint venture," current chief executive Roger Taylor told Reuters.

Carphone said Harrison, a company veteran of 17 years and the current boss of CPW Europe, would take on the CEO role at the annual investors' meeting on July 24. Taylor will switch to deputy chairman, but will keep many existing responsibilities.

Taylor said the Best Buy deal meant Carphone's retail operation formed the core of the group's business, making Harrison's promotion a logical step. "I think for the business it's a net positive for everyone," he said.

Dunstone, who founded Carphone in 1989 and has a 26 percent stake, is widely admired by investors, not least for his move to sell a stake in the firm to Best Buy for over 1 billion pounds in 2008 and then buy it back for less than half that price.

Carphone shares, up 59 percent over the last year, rose up to 3.7 percent on Wednesday after it met earnings guidance for 2012-13 and forecast a rise of up to 62 percent in earnings for the 2013-14 year - boosted by the acquisition.

"The transformational deal to buy out Best Buy's 50 percent stake in the core business for just 471 million pounds (which completed on Tuesday) will deliver astonishing EPS accretion this year," said independent retail analyst Nick Bubb.

Carphone said headline earnings per share (EPS) were 12.3 pence in the year to March 31. Though that was in line with company guidance of 11.5 pence to 13.0 pence, it was down from 12.6 pence made in the 2011-12 year.

Despite the squeeze on consumers' disposable income the firm won market share in Britain in both the postpay and prepay segments of the mobile phone market and saw strong demand for smartphones and tablet computers.

For 2013-14 the firm forecast headline EPS of 17 pence to 20 pence, with headline earnings before interest and tax at CPW Europe of 140-160 million pounds, up from 137 million in 2012-13.

Carphone also said it was formalising relationships with Media Markt/Saturn and Metro Group in the Netherlands and Germany respectively.

In the Netherlands, where Carphone has been trialing stores with Media Markt/Saturn for a year, both parties have signed a letter of intent and will now negotiate a full commercial deal.

In Germany, Carphone plans a deal with Metro that will see stores-within-a-store opened under the Makro/Metro Cash & Carry, Real and Galeria Kaufhof brands.

Carphone said similar deals in other European markets would be considered.

Shares in Carphone, which is paying a maintained full year dividend of 5 pence, were up 4.8 pence at 243.25 pence at 1000 GMT, valuing the business at about 1.2 billion pounds.

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