Dot.com millionaire returns with flotation of renewable energy firm

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The Independent Online

Karl Watkin, the dot.com millionaire who angered shareholders in his company Just2Clicks (J2C) three years ago, when he liquidated it after pocketing more than £3.5m, is to make a return to the City next week. He is floating his latest venture, a renewable energy firm, on AIM.

Karl Watkin, the dot.com millionaire who angered shareholders in his company Just2Clicks (J2C) three years ago, when he liquidated it after pocketing more than £3.5m, is to make a return to the City next week. He is floating his latest venture, a renewable energy firm, on AIM.

Mr Watkin, 49, is now chairman of D1 Oils, which produces a renewable fuel called biodiesel. The company plans to raise £13m from next Friday's float, which will be used to establish plantations for the growth of jatrophas, trees which produces oil-bearing seeds used to make the fuel. The firm will have a total market value of about £34m.

The company says the use of biodiesel is being encouraged by governments around the world, as a way of cutting down on emissions which are harmful to the environment.

Mr Watkin is best known in the City for his days as an internet entrepreneur, running J2C, a failed business-to-business venture which was shut down in 2001. In the days before the remaining cash was returned to investors, shareholders were horrified to discover that Mr Watkin, along with Luke Johnson, the leisure industry entrepreneur who founded Pizza Express, and Alan Donnelly, the former Labour MEP, had already sold their stakes, making healthy profits on their investments.

Mr Johnson, who is now the chairman of Channel 4, was reported to have received more than £700,000 in return for his initial investment of as little as £2,000. Mr Watkin, meanwhile, made more than £3.5m, having initially put just £30,000 into the company.

Philip Wood, the chief executive of D1, said: "He's an entrepreneur, and with entrepreneurs, some things go better than others. He's been a part of D1 pretty much since inception and has worked for no salary, and with no expenses."

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