Johnson in bid to revive Brainspark

Luke Johnson, the entrepreneur who was previously behind Pizza Express and used to be chairman of Channel 4, has emerged as a surprise investor in the Aim-listed investment company Brainspark, and he has also become chairman.

Mr Johnson spent £1m to buy 25 million shares at 4p as part of a share placing which raised £2.8m. The non-executive director Edward Burman has quit as part of the shake-up at Brainspark, which says it is "pursuing a dynamic strategy to create a comprehensive portfolio of companies primarily encompassing the leisure and real-estate sectors, mainly in Italy but also other European countries".

Brainspark debuted on Aim in 2000, but the shares have fallen more than 80 per cent per cent in the past 12 months. Yesterday they rose 0.125p to 5p. The company was late to file accounts, which show an annual loss of £6.7m. Mr Johnson, who runs the private equity firm Risk Capital Partners, has a reputation for taking on difficult challenges, not always successfully, as he struggled to turn around book chain Borders.

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