Small Talk: Ramsden trio sued over fundraising failure

Eden update - Keep an eye on SI - Mondas revival
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The Independent Online

Three business associates of the racehorse owner Terry Ramsden are being sued for £15m over the botched fundraising by Financial Development Corporation. FDC has begun legal proceedings claiming breach of contract and damages.

FDC, formerly called Hansard Communications after the public relations firm it has since sold to management, raised only £6m of the £11m it planned from a placing of new shares in the summer. It said at the time that three proposed investors had failed to stump up the promised cash. Mr Ramsden himself increased his stake in the company at the time, although he has since sold out entirely.

Mr Ramsden's appearance on the share register in July sent FDC shares soaring. The placing proceeds were to be used to fund the purchase by FDC of another of Mr Ramsden's companies, which owned a plot of land in Barbados for development as holiday apartments. Although FDC still has an option to buy Griffin, that purchase has now collapsed. Instead, FDC is a rich cash shell looking for a reverse takeover.

Eden update

For those few shareholders in Eden Research who made it to the natural pesticides group's shareholder meeting on Friday there was more detail than usual on the development of its products for treating Pierce's disease, which attacks vines, and soil parasites. But not nearly enough. We learnt, in answer to the questions printed here last week, that Thallo Eco, which will distribute products in California and perhaps the rest of the US, is a specially created company with no infrastructure of its own as yet. We also discovered some of the details of the financial arrangements behind the deal. But, in a laughably opaque phrase, we learnt only that Thallo Eco "has been established by people with the relevant experience in commerce and industry".

There was also no engagement with the allegations of Eden's former business partner, Reed Smith, who says a key product has failed its trials. Eden characterises Mr Smith as a man with a grudge and insists that trials against Pierce's disease are progressing well. As for the listing on AIM, promised since the new year, the controversy stoked by Mr Smith means that plans for the move up from Ofex have been delayed indefinitely.

Keep an eye on SI

Surgical Innovations, the Leeds-based designer and manufacturer of surgical instruments, is being circled by brokers keen to snatch the company away from its current adviser, Westhouse. SI knows it has to grow if it is to survive, since this is an industry dominated by the medical devices giants of the US. Much hope is pinned on its recently launched scissors for keyhole surgery, for which it has just signed a distribution deal in the Benelux countries. If a City charm offensive by the management combines with a new broker keen to bring acquisition opportunities to the company, then SI shares could be worth watching.

Mondas revival

At last, the end of the horrible spat between Tim Simon, the founder of Mondas, a City trading software company, and the board which ousted him as chairman and chief executive in August after nearly a decade of mounting losses and missed promises. He failed in an attempt to have himself reinstated to the board last week, a move which would have scuppered a carefully negotiated financial rescue package.

With this threat lifted, with the company focusing on less technologically ambitious software and with the latest trading news showing progress, Mondas could become interesting to speculators.

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