Bunhill: Edmonds scores with a spin-off

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The Independent Online
AT LAST Phil Edmonds appears to have found the perfect pitch. Not at his home ground, Lord's, but, wait for it, in Tajikistan, not previously known as a major cricketing country.

When Edmonds was playing cricket for England his fellow players used to complain that the off-spinner with the famously feisty wife, Frances, was too involved in endless business deals to be able to concentrate fully on the cricket. This was always unfair, but Edmonds never made any secret of the fact that he loved deals and proposed to go into business full time when he finally hung up his England cap.

It took him some years to find his line and length. But the breakthrough came in November 1992 when he spotted a corporate vehicle called Ferromet, from which he hoped 'to build up something of substance'. Although Ferromet had a profitable subsidiary in Bermuda, trading obscure metals such as cadmium, a lesser entrepreneur would have been deterred by the problems another subsidiary was having with the American bankruptcy laws.

But Edmonds ploughed on, and a year later found his ideal partner, Masoud Amir Alikhani, a well-respected Iranian refugee with impeccable connections in Central Asia (and a South African Jewish wife, which makes him a really unusual Iranian). They changed the company's name to Middlesex Holdings (in honour of Edmonds's old county) and have just announced an impressive, if complex, deal with Alusuisse, the giant Swiss aluminium group.

This involves the eventual privatisation of a big smelter in Tajikistan, an independent republic which is tucked away in the far South-east of the former Soviet Union, just north of Afghanistan.

For his next trick, Edmonds is planning the first English language university in Russia - a joint venture with Middlesex University.

(Photograph omitted)