Wireless Logic sold to boost Jones war chest

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The Independent Online

Peter Jones, the star of the BBC's Dragons' Den, is looking for a private equity partner to join him to invest up to £500m in a well-known but struggling UK brand.

Mr Jones yesterday sold his Wireless Logic business for £38m to the private equity group ECI Partners to add to a deal fund of almost £100m amassed over the past year.

Mr Jones said: "I'm building a bit of a war chest because I think the market will be quite tough over the next six months. Banks will continue to lend but it gives me a real advantage to be able to put equity on the table for businesses that are going to struggle over the next six months."

The serial investor and entrepreneur said he had already looked at the Blockbuster video chain, parts of the Esporta fitness group. He has also looked at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant business as a potential investment in the past.

He said targets would probably be businesses bought by private equity and now struggling to refinance or firms controlled by their banks.

Mr Jones made his fortune in telecoms but he is looking for a well-known brand that could be a retailer, a designer or a leisure operation.

"I'm interested in mainstream brands that are currently struggling where I can move in operationally with my team. I want to work with a sizeable private equity group that would like to sit alongside me and allow me to do what I do best."

He said he was looking to do one or two deals and that a single one for a stake of up to £500m was possible.

Mr Jones said he would add operational know-how as well as much needed cash to any company.

He added that he paid £250,000 for Wireless Logic in 2002.