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Lingerie queen heads to California after selling Ultimo

Michelle Mone’s extraordinary story has taken another surprise twist after she revealed on Twitter that she has sold a majority stake in her Ultimo lingerie business.

The Scot has also bought the remaining equity in UTan, a fake tan business that she launched two years ago. She said she is looking for a home in Los Angeles.

Mone, who told her 800,000 Twitter followers that she is “the happiest I have ever been”, is understood to have sold her majority stake in Ultimo to her Sri Lankan partner MAS Holdings.

“Yes, I am looking for a home in Los Angeles but I will keep my home(s) in Scotland and London,” she tweeted. “Time to go out and celebrate! New dress, new shoes and an old bag. Here we go.”

She added: “Bought a business today!!! Love it.”

Responding to media inquiries, she said: “I can confirm I have sold 80% of Ultimo and bought 100% of Utan&Beauty. I am the happiest I have ever been and Ultimo will soon be a global success.”

There is a never a dull moment in the life of the 43-year-old whose skills in business are matched only by her ability to promote herself and her latest ventures. She has found no difficulty filling newspapers columns with her collection of A-rated models from Rachel Hunter to Abbey Clancy. Her own website claims she has secured half a million pounds worth of advertising through editorial coverage of scantily-clad women wearing her Ultimo underwear.

Her business dealings, however, have always fascinated onlookers who wonder how she does it. Her former company MJM International had to be bailed out by entrepreneur and friend Sir Tom Hunter (she later repaid him and fellow investor Ian Grabiner) and she suffered a huge setback when a couple running one of her distribution outlets ran off with £1.6 million.

Her marriage collapsed and in September this year accounts showed that MJM, which has ceased trading, had net liabilities of more than £287,000 at the end of December 2013, having recorded assets of nearly £500,000 the previous year. Even so, she is said to be worth £50m or £10m depending when and where the figures appear, and her plans to buy a home in LA and devote her attention to UTan shows she is still full of fight. She says she will retain her homes in Scotland and London.

Only two months ago she was talking about expansion at Ultimo Brands International, even though it was making a loss. She said the company’s balance sheet was in a strong position.

“I am incredibly excited about the future of Ultimo,” she declared, and said it was on target to return to profitability next year.

“We are expanding rapidly, with a pipeline of 12 new stores opening across the UK in the next 12 months.”

Since it launched in May 2012, Ultimo’s UTan range has become fashionable with celebrities such as Coronation Street’s Michelle Keegan and The Saturdays’ Una Healy. It took three years of research and £1 million to develop. She launched it at London department store Selfridges, naturally flanked by four bikini-clad beauties sporting their very own UTan tans.

Last night she signed off by tweeting: “Have a great Sat guys! I’m off to celebrate 17 years of building Ultimo into a huge brand & my new chapter. If I meet you,the pinks on me.”



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