Synergy Healthcare takes a risk with £8.7m Shiloh deal

Analysts are worried that Synergy's response, to buy Shiloh, looks like thumbing its nose at the DoH and won't do the group any favours in the long run. Baird Securities, a long-time fan of Synergy shares, has just abandoned its positive recommendation for this reason. It wrote: "We do not believe that it would have made the offer without sounding out the DoH first - but we can't be sure."

In fact, Richard Steeves, Synergy's chief executive, says there has been no one at the DoH to sound out, because of personnel changes, but that he does not foresee problems. Shiloh has been losing money and the DoH is more likely to be worried about the financial health of one of its important suppliers, Mr Steeves said.

Easier rebels fight on

Still no end in sight for the long-suffering investors in Easier and Boustead, two cash shell companies where, between them, £8m has gone missing.

At an Easier shareholder meeting last month, Fulton Partners, the offshore investment company which owns 25 per cent of the company, promised to launch a buyout of other shareholders. Since then, a deafening silence.

So it is off to the High Court for the rebel shareholders, representing 54 per cent of Easier, who are refusing to let the matter drop. They want Neville Buch, chairman of the AIM-listed exhibitions group Tarsus, to be appointed to the board to launch a search for the missing £5.4m.

Easier was delisted after its auditors, Deloitte, resigned last year. Shares in Boustead, where Fulton Partners has been employed to find a home for its £2.6m of cash, were suspended in February after it failed to publish its accounts. Fulton made suggestions last month that a resolution at Boustead might be just round the corner, but its auditors, Kingston Smith, say they have heard only the usual deafening silence.

Now in poll position

After YouGov, the pollsters who use panels of internet users for their market research, comes Research Now. The company is raising a little more than £4m for expansion, while the founders Chris Havemann and Andrew Cooper are selling about £400,000. Turnover has more than doubled every six months for the past year and a half, and Research Now says it has up to 600,000 people across Europe willing to offer their opinions. Its likely market value is £19m.

Longbridge travails

An update on Longbridge International, mentioned here last week. Frank Varela, the recruitment firm's founder and chairman, looked into the abyss when his finance director and nominated adviser both resigned. Last Thursday he quit instead, and two former directors returned. Noble & Co, reinstalled as adviser, is expected to pursue a plan for a reverse takeover of the company and a refinancing.

Myerson heads Nord

Pay close attention to Nord Anglia Education. The business - which runs nurseries in the UK, schools overseas, and conducts school inspections and other outsourced government functions - has attracted the attention of Brian Myerson, one half of the old Active Value duo, whose new investment vehicle, Principle Capital, has a stake of 9.1 per cent and aims to get more. Mr Myerson is famed for agitating for corporate restructuring, and with Nord Anglia's nurseries trading so badly, he may get a sympathetic hearing from other investors.

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