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Dragons Den Jones to offload Data Select to management

Amassing cash to snap up firms cheap in coming double-dip?

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Dragons Den star Peter Jones is understood to be in talks with the management team at Data Select to sell the mobile distributor, according to industry sources.

The empire got a bit smaller this week as Jones flogged his machine-to-machine (M2M) comms specialist Wireless Logic to mid-market private equity firm ECI Partners for £38m.

Marlow-based Wireless Logic connects embedded sensing devices for customers through SIM-based tech to transmit and receive info with applications including vehicle tracking and home and business security monitoring.

Jones acquired Wireless Logic from current MD Oliver Tucker and sales director Philip Cole in 2002, three years after the business was founded.

"I will be watching with interest how the business develops further with the support and backing of ECI," said Jones in a PR blurb.

In the 11 months to 31 October 2002, Wireless turned over £32,800 and made an operating loss of £202,000, but in the last accounts for the year to 30 April 2010 it made a pre-tax profit of £1.6m on the back of sales of £8.16m.

Sources close to the situation told El Reg that Jones is in negotiations with Data Select management, led by chief commercial officer Roy Taylor, to sell them the distie which peddles mobile phones, accessories and airtime.

Jones was involved in discussions to sell Data Select to Computer 2000's Brightstar venture earlier this year but they came to nothing as the parties were unable to agree on terms.

"He [Jones] has hawked the business around for a couple of years but the price he expected [upwards of £50m] was ridiculous so I guess an MBO is another option ... it gives him more control over the price," said a source.

Reports suggest Jones is trying to amass a £100m acquisition fund to take advantage of low biz valuations should a double-dip recession materialise.

In the year to 30 April, Data Select made a £4.3m pre-tax profit and £194m in revenues.

Jones is also a majority shareholder in Expansys, which acquired reseller Data Select Network Solutions and PJ Media – firms he also had a stake in – last year.

Taylor and Jones were unavailable to comment. ®

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