From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (June 2010)|
|Born||John David Caudwell
7 October 1952
|Education||Berry Hill High School|
|Net worth||US$ 2.6 billion|
John David Caudwell (born 7 October 1952) is an English businessman and philanthropist who has made his fortune in the mobile phone business. In 2005, the Sunday Times estimated Caudwell's wealth at £1.28 billion (then around $2.4 billion).
In 2012, Forbes calculated his net worth at $2.6 billion, and ranked him the 464th richest person in the world, 13th in the UK.
Most of his time is now spent on philanthropic work, and, indeed, Caudwell has pledged to give at least half of his wealth away to his charitable foundation on his death. 
Caudwell was born in Birmingham but moved with his family as a baby to Stoke-on-Trent and raised in Wellesley Street in Shelton, and with his brother Brian attended Shelton Church of England School, and then Berry Hill High School. His father had a stroke when he was 14 and died 4 years later. His mother lives in the Midlands.
Caudwell abandoned his A-levels to become an apprentice at Michelin, and worked for several years there as an engineering foreman while gaining an HNC in mechanical engineering. Whilst working at Michelin he also ran a corner shop and started a mail order business selling clothing to motor bikers, both of which were successful, his motorcycle clothing business so much so that the manufacturer for a period refused to sell him stock because he was outperforming established retailers.
Being both mechanically knowledgeable and commercially savvy, Caudwell's car sales business evolved out of his acquiring cars to sell to his Michelin colleagues.
In 1986, whilst still trading motorcars, Caudwell became aware of the first of the then new mobile phones, and discovered that there were large profit margins possible, so contacted the American handset maker Motorola to see if he could do a deal.
With his brother Brian, in 1987 Caudwell registered Midland Mobile Phones as a mobile phone wholesaler, taking 26 Motorola mobiles at £1,350 each. It took 8 months to sell these 26 phones to local plumbers, taxi drivers and television repairmen at a price of £2,000 each. The company made a loss every month for the first two years of operations.
But developing from a small dealership to a wholesale distributor, turnover expanded to £13 million in 1991, making it the UK's largest independent distributor of cellular phones. Turnover increased from £13 million in 1991 to over £1 billion in 2000. In 1996 and 1997, the Caudwell Group was named the UK's fastest growing company for 2 years in succession.
His aggressive expansion with Phones4U into the retail space created a professional rivalry with Charles Dunstone who built that other UK mobile dynasty, The Carphone Warehouse. Whereas Dunstone’s success was forged in the retail side of cellular, the Caudwell empire was built on the success of wholesaling with 20:20 Distribution – which became one of the largest handset distributors in Europe – and Singlepoint, an airtime reseller for Vodafone. 20:20’s dominance in the fast-growing UK mobile market paved the way for aggressive expansion into retail and accessories, with the development of Phones4u and Dextra.
By 2003, the Caudwell Group employed over 8,000 worldwide and was selling 26 phones every minute.
Caudwell was a great believer in the financial motivation of his staff, and set up an employee benefit trust (EBT) to provide incentives to his key people. The trust was not only an effective long-term employee motivation mechanism, but was also tax-efficient to both the company and its employees.
In 2005, The House of Lords finally decided that the payments into the EBT would not be corporate tax deductible, thereby significantly reducing the effectiveness of the Trust.
As an alternative Caudwell decided to design and introduce a wealth creation scheme for the long-term retention of his high-flyers and his senior management team.
A bull market player by nature, Caudwell could see the end of the growth days looming. He sold Singlepoint to Vodafone, for £405m (then $648m). Caudwell completed the sale of the wider business on 26 September 2006, when it was revealed that the Caudwell Group had been sold for a £1.46 billion to private equity firms Providence Equity Partners and Doughty Hanson.
He is considering more television offers.
His key current projects can be categorised under three headings: charity and philanthropy; property, and growth businesses.
Charity and philanthropy
His key charitable pursuit is supporting Caudwell Children; however he is also a significant and regular contributor to and supporter of a number of charities and good causes including The Prince's Regeneration Trust, Marie Curie, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, ARK (Absolute Return for Kids), Great Ormond Street Hospital and The Carers Trust amongst others.
Caudwell's intention is to leave at least 50% of his wealth to a charitable foundation which will be run by his children.
Caudwell Properties Limited is involved in property acquisition, management and development. While much of the Caudwell portfolio is solid commercial real estate, more recently he has acquired property in Mayfair in London, the core of which is Audley Square Car Park and some surrounding buildings.
Caudwell's intention - for which he has planning permission - is to replace the car park with super-prime residential apartments and town houses described by him as being in the style of "grand Mayfair architecture". Caudwell has a rigid belief that completion of his iconic apartment block, in place of a multi storey car park widely considered to be a blight on the local skyline, Audley Square will become one of the most desirable living addresses in the world and will represent the heart of ‘Mayfair Village’.
Caudwell has stakes, and has invested in, several businesses.
They include Caudwell Marine, a specialist engineering business which designs, develops and manufactures highly-efficient marine propulsion systems. But in keeping with Caudwell's concern for green issues, his investment is based on consideration for the environment, both in terms of engine emissions and sustainable manufacturing processes.
The sustainable approach is being tested in the toughest of environments: Caudwell Marine is involved in the development of a relatively green four-stroke-powered boat which will compete in the F1 H2O powerboat race series.
He owns a yacht charter business which operates two Lurssens. Titania is 72m, Capri is 58.5m. Some of the technological advances developed by Caudwell Marine are tested and employed on the yachts.
Caudwell was married to Kate for 25 years, ending in 2001. They had three children and parted amicably. He then had a relationship with violinist Jane Burgess, with whom he had a daughter. He is presently in a long term relationship with Claire Johnson, with whom he has a son.
A self-confessed adrenalin freak, his hobbies include motorcycles, helicopters (he is a qualified pilot), and aeroplanes. However, his key interest and pastime is cycling.
He is often stated to be a supporter of Liverpool football club, which is not true but originates from the fact that one of his sons is passionate about Liverpool, and he has taken him on several occasions.
Caudwell spends a great deal of his time on charitable work, especially Caudwell Children, a charity he founded in 2000. He still donates to the NSPCC and other charities, and undertakes regular 1,000 mile charity bike rides to raise funds for many children's charities.
He has wider philanthropic interests. For instance, he was principal donor to London's Bomber Command Memorial, and has also made substantial donations to the Middleport Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent.
- "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. March 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
- "The John Caudwell Story". BBC Stoke & Staffordshire. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- Parkinson, Gary (2006-01-21). "A day in the life of John Caudwell: How to make your first £1bn: start planning at the age of eight". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "The Angel". SKY.