JellyWorks' boss goes cherrypicking in Orchard

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Jonathan Rowland, the 24-year-old former chief executive of JellyWorks, is understood to have his sights set on his next internet-based investment, former furniture group Orchard.

Jonathan Rowland, the 24-year-old former chief executive of JellyWorks, is understood to have his sights set on his next internet-based investment, former furniture group Orchard.

During JellyWorks' brief heyday as an independent backer of online start-ups and e-commerce websites, it invested in high-profile companies like Antfactory, MatchNet and Orchestream. Earlier this month, however, the investment banking boutique Shore Capital agreed to buy the company in a share swap that leaves JellyWorks with a quarter of the combined entity, and Mr Rowland with a tidy fortune from his 70 per cent stake.

The deal was Shore's first corporate acquisition, and the group made it clear that it would be wasting no time homing in on its next prey. With Mr Rowland, the son of mega-rich investor David Rowland, on board, Shore could be on the brink of realising that through the purchase of a household-name internet company. The deal is thought to involve Orchard. The former furniture company has more than £12m in cash and, in turn, is looking for an appropriate company to acquire.

Orchard has gone through a number of phases of frenzied speculation, during which its name has been linked with possible candidates. On one day in June a rumour posted in a day-traders' chat room sent the shares soaring 20 per cent, and made Orchard, whose market cap is only £24m, the most traded stock after Vodafone.

But as the interest in internet companies has waned, the market has speculated that Shore Capital and Orchard's next moves would be joint ventures. What type of company they may be after is unclear, but it is understood it might be a high-profile internet service provider. As the sheen comes off many e-commerce plays, ISPs are looking attractive to investors still scouting around.

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