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30 November 2003
Scotland on Sunday
Farmer to launch fund for young tycoons

SIR Tom Farmer, the former Kwik-Fit tycoon, is to launch a fund to invest in young entrepreneurs who want to build companies in the automotive industry.

Farmer, who last week told 800 Scottish business leaders that for the first time in his life he was 'jealous' of the success of some young people, is believed to be working with a financial institution to roll out his initiative.

He told the Entrepreneurial Exchange dinner in Glasgow that he had never been jealous of anybody until now and it was because he saw so many good businesses being launched by creative young people.

Afterwards, he confirmed he was working on a plan that would be announced shortly.

He dropped hints about it earlier in the week at a LearnDirect Scotland seminar when he said he would launch a fund targeted at young people working in the automotive industries.

This is thought to be because he will be familiar with the challenges that young hopefuls in that sector will face after spending 30 years in the trade himself.

Farmer, who is expected to finance the fund from his estimated GBP 92m fortune, said last week that he was still working on the plans but was not yet ready to reveal the details. It is likely he will have a clearer strategy in the new year.

'I cannot say anything just yet, but it is likely to involve taking equity stakes in young businesses,' he told Scotland on Sunday. He is also likely to bankroll the back-office costs that young people consider an added burden when they start companies.

Farmer, who is president of the Entrepreneurial Exchange, said the new fund would not be a venture capital company.

He told the Exchange dinner that he was delighted to see so many new members, which was 'a clear indication of the vibrancy of Scotland's entrepreneurial community' which he said augured well for the future prosperity of the nation.

He is thought to be keen to stay active in business despite making his fortune in 1999 from the GBP 1bn sale of Kwik-Fit, which he founded in 1971, and earning GBP 1m a year in rent from property assets.


TERRY MURDEN



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