Founder buys out Telstra's majority stake in PhoneWords

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Founder buys out Telstra's majority stake in PhoneWords
Gavin Scholes, 1300 Australia

The founder of Telstra PhoneWords has led a consortium to acquire Telstra's 85 percent stake in the company, which sells personalised 1300 numbers.

Founder and chief executive Gavin Scholes and investors led by Aura Funds Management purchased the majority share for an undisclosed amount.

Telstra PhoneWords will revert back to its original name, 1300 Australia, on completion of the transaction.

The deal brings to an end the exclusive relationship Telstra had held since 2004, and 1300 Australia will broaden its offering to include wholesale arrangements with other telecommunication companies, and marketing and advertising agencies.

The management team and employees will continue in their current positions.

Scholes said: "This is a significant milestone for the business and we are excited for what lies ahead. There is a significant runway of growth in the phone words market as more businesses seek simplicity and cut through in their marketing campaigns.

“The business would not be where it is today without the support it has received from Telstra. Together we have invested over $50 million to create a product that is now seen as an increasingly important marketing and advertising tool for businesses of any size."

“Phone Words help companies get a better return on their marketing and advertising efforts for the simple reason that market research has shown time and time again that customers remember words better than numbers.”

The company provides alphanumeric translations of a phone number – for example, 1300 FLIGHT representing the number 1300 354448 – and supports 1300, 13, and 1800 prefixes.

1300 Australia also owns the platform, which uses business analytics to help companies understand what their customers are saying when they call. The platform's uses include sales, debt collection and customer service.

A Telstra spokesperson told CRN: "For the next phase of the company’s development, Aura Capital will bring a wide range of experience and allow it to continue to grow and expand with new channels to market. As part of this agreement, Telstra PhoneWords will transition back to its former name, 1300 Australia.

"1300 Australia has been an excellent investment for Telstra and we will continue to resell 1300 Australia’s products to our customers and support the business as it enters the next stage of its evolution."

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