The business on...Jon Moulton, Founder, Better Capital

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The Independent Online

The mouthy private equity tycoon?

That's one way to describe him. Mr Moulton is indeed a private equity tycoon, having founded not one, but two big successes – Alchemy Partners and now Better Capital – and he's can be outspoken. The Potteries accent helps him get noticed too.

So what's he up to these days?

Pretty much what he has always been up to: buying underperforming businesses and returning them to health. Specifically, after buying Readers Digest UK out of administration last April, Better Capital said yesterday that the magazine's circulation had risen by 8 per cent in the second half of last year. That was its first circulation increase for almost two decades.

What's his secret and should Rupert Murdoch be worried?

Don't be facetious. Mr Moulton has simply made some sensible business decisions. He's using the company's biggest asset, a database of 500,000 customers, more effectively. And he's cut costs too. Rent is now a twentieth of what it was after a move from Canary Wharf to Edgware Road.

But is he penning editorials?

Not to our knowledge, but no doubt Mr Moulton could turn his hand to anything. He certainly doesn't lack opinions or the confidence to express them. In fact, it was a falling-out with colleagues at Alchemy in 2009 that saw him walk out of the company and start over at Better Capital.

He's not afraid of making enemies then?

Apparently not. There were fall-outs at some of Mr Moulton's previous private equity incarnations too. Nor is he afraid to court public controversy. He came to prominence with a bid for Rover Group in 2000. Ministers decided his plan to slash costs and concentrate on the sports car niche was just too unpopular to countenance, but let's just say the business did not fare well under the owners they picked instead.

So what's next?

Better Capital says it is seeking more underperforming assets.

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