Small Talk: Ex-cricket star scores African clinic success

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The Independent Online

The former England Test cricketer Phil Edmonds is fond of Africa; he was, after all, born in Lusaka in Zambia. He is also keen on the continent as a place to do business after establishing a host of mining and oil exploration companies, stretching from Zimbabwe to the Democratic Republic of Congo. His latest venture, however, is a break from his traditional drilling activities.

Back in June Mr Edmonds raised a shade over £5m when he listed African Medical Investments (AMI) on the Alternative Investment Market, "to acquire and invest in businesses principally operating in the healthcare sector in Africa, particularly those providing services to the continent's emerging middle classes and overseas businesses".

Five months later, and AMI is on the cusp of its first foray, with a deal to acquire VIP Healthcare, which runs a clinic at Johannesburg Airport and a presumably busy trauma centre in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. The deal, worth as much as £5m in cash and shares, will see the group opening up several clinics and women's only hospitals in several other African countries.

Mr Edmonds thinks he is on to a winner with this venture. Sadly for Mr Edmonds, some of his other companies have proved less successful of late. With the falling price of oil, White Nile, which hunts for oil and gas in another Africa melting pot, southern Sudan, has lost more than 98 per cent of its value in the last year.

The thinking is that with a growing African middle class, as well as increasing tourism and NGO visitors, the demand for better medical provisions than the locals receive will be high. It is just a pity that no one can suggest a similar deal for the majority of Africans.

Crime analysts investigate the case of the fragmented market

Anyone who has watched the fictional Crime Scene Investigation television series will know how much the police value the hi-tech equipment and software that allows them to catch the improbable criminals. What viewers probably do not realise is just how fragmented the market for this type of analytical equipment and software is.

This morning Scientific Digital Imaging will announce its intention to list on the Aim market with a view to consolidating the industry. The group, which has already made a couple of small acquisitions since forming six months ago, will pay for its targets with shares, as it does not intend to raise any cash from the listing.

The group specialises in digitalimaging in areas such as DNA and protein analysis and various forms of microbial colony counting, which it claims will be useful for both public and private sector clients. Thechairman, Harry Tee, reckons the group will soon be making "substantial" acquisitions.

Bango drums up advertising business

Every time you download something on your mobile phone, the likelihood is that a company called Bango organises your payment to the content provider. In a plus for the consumer, it will also seek out the best price. The slightly worrying thing from the consumer's point of view is that Bango, in a perfectly legal way, collects information on its customers, often relating to preferences. Last week, the Aim-listed group entered into a partnership with a company called Advertisement, which will allow them to use targeted advertising to customers. A great idea in theory, but perhaps people might be a little more careful about what they download on their phones in the future.

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