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French-based Cerba HealthCare to take over Operations at Lancet Laboratories

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Cerba HealthCare will take control of Lancet Laboratories after announcing a joint venture to “strengthen provision of effective, evidence-based healthcare across Africa”.

Lancet Laboratories, a medical lab services provider with its headquarters in South Africa, has a significant presence in Kenya and other 14 countries. The financial detail of the JV deal has not been revealed.

The firm has over 1,400 employees serving 1.3 million patients a year, and generated Ksh5 billion in turnover last year.

“We are delighted to partner with Cerba HealthCare and are looking forward to expanding our efforts together and working to improve the health of African citizens,” Dr Peter Cole, CEO of Lancet Laboratories commented.

In Kenya, it runs under the name Pathologists Lancet Kenya and operates 38 labs and service points across the country, with Lancet Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda as PLK’s subsidiaries.

Competition Authority of Kenya approved the deal in December 2018 as “the transaction met the threshold for exclusion specified in Mergers Threshold Guidelines under the CAK Act”.

“The entry of Cerba Healthcare from Europe with their extensive experience of operating as an international corporate business brings on board new expected efficiencies, which together with their significant financial muscle, will enhance our operations, strengthen our reach and diversify our service offering across the region,” said Lancet Group of Laboratories in East Africa chief executive Dr Ahmed Kalebi.

The new JV deal will be known as Cerba Lancet Africa, and will cover operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The South African operations will not be part of the deal.

The move by Cerba HealthCare is part of the firm’s strategy to make significant forays across Africa, including the French-speaking countries that Lancet Laboratories did not have presence.

“Our common goal is to develop medical services in regions where we are already present and to expand into other countries,” said Cerba healthCare’s deputy chief executive Jérôme Thill.

Cerba HealthCare has its headquarters in Paris, where it operates a network of laboratories and technical facilities across Europe – mainly in france, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy – that serve more than 50 countries in Europe, Africa and Middle East.

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AT&T, Viacom continue contract negotiations past deadline

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FILE PHOTO: The Viacom office is seen in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) – MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and other Viacom Inc channels were still available on AT&T Inc’s DirecTV satellite TV service on early Saturday morning as the companies continued to hash out a new carriage contract.

It was not immediately clear if a deal could be reached, sources briefed on the matter said. AT&T and Viacom declined to comment.

The previous contract, in which AT&T paid Viacom about $1 billion in fees annually, expired at midnight Friday. Failing to reach a deal means Viacom channels would not be available to AT&T’s 24.5 million customers.

These types of conflicts have become increasingly common amid waves of media consolidation and the migration of viewers from traditional pay television services to streaming TV services such as Netflix and Amazon.

The current discussions have weighed on any potential tie-up of CBS Corp and Viacom, both of which are controlled by the Redstone family’s National Amusements Inc.

Viacom had begun warning AT&T subscribers on Tuesday that its channels could stop being shown on the DirecTV service if it failed to reach a new contract by midnight on March 22.

Viacom, owner of MTV, Nickelodeon, BET and Comedy Central, accused AT&T of abusing its powers after buying Time Warner Inc, which owns the Warner Bros Hollywood studios and HBO premium cable network.

AT&T has said Viacom channels are no longer as popular as they once were and accused them of being a “serial bad actor” in contract renewal negotiations.

Reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Tom Hogue

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U.S. airlines sending teams to review Boeing 737 MAX upgrade this weekend

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – The three U.S. airlines that own Boeing Co’s (BA.N) 737 MAX are meeting the U.S. manufacturer this weekend to review a software upgrade for the jet that has suffered two fatal crashes in five months, officials from the airlines told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft sit next to the maintenance area after landing at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Kraczynski/File Photo

The meetings are a sign that Boeing’s planned software patch is nearing completion, though it will still need regulatory approval.

Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N), American Airlines (AAL.O) and United Airlines (UAL.O) operate 34, 24 and 14 MAX jets respectively.

Southwest’s delegation includes experts from its technical pilot and training teams who will review documentation and training associated with Boeing’s updated speed trim system, spokeswoman Brandy King said on Friday.

Boeing’s signature jet was grounded across the world last week following a deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash near Addis Ababa on March 10, just five months after a Lion Air crash in Indonesia.

Ethiopian and French investigators have pointed to “clear similarities” between the two crashes, which killed 346 people, putting pressure on Boeing and U.S. regulators to come up with an adequate fix. The causes of the crashes are still unknown.

American pilots told Reuters on Thursday that they also plan to test Boeing’s software upgrade this weekend in Renton, Washington, where Boeing makes the jets and has two simulators.

United will also meet with Boeing in Renton on Saturday, spokesman Frank Benenati said.

Meanwhile, Southwest is preparing to begin moving on Saturday its entire MAX fleet to a facility in Victorville, California, at the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert.

“The planes being in one place will be more efficient for performing the repetitive maintenance necessary for stationary aircraft, as well as any future software enhancements that need to take place,” King said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration must approve Boeing’s software changes as well as new pilot training, a process that could take weeks or longer. Regulators in Europe and Canada have said they will conduct their own reviews of any new systems.

Boeing shares have fallen 14 percent since the Ethiopian crash, and every day that its jets are grounded comes at a cost both to the manufacturer and the airlines that purchased them for their more fuel-efficient engines and longer range.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Robert Birsel

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Southwest sending team to review Boeing 737 MAX upgrade while parking jets

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co is sending a team to review Boeing Co’s software upgrade for its 737 MAX airplanes, a spokeswoman told Reuters on Friday, even as it prepares to park its 34 MAX jets at a facility near the California desert.

FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft sit next to the maintenance area after landing at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Kraczynski/File Photo

Boeing’s signature jet was grounded across the world last week following a deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash near Addis Ababa on March 10, just five months after a Lion Air crash in Indonesia.

Ethiopian and French investigators have pointed to “clear similarities” between the two crashes, which killed 346 people, putting pressure on Boeing and U.S. regulators to come up with an adequate fix. The causes of the crashes are still unknown.

Southwest’s meeting with Boeing on Saturday is a sign that the U.S. manufacturer’s planned software fix is nearing completion, though it still needs regulatory approval.

Dallas, Texas-based Southwest is the largest operator of the 737 MAX in the world with 34 jets, followed by American Airlines Group in the United States with 24 MAX.

American pilots told Reuters on Thursday that they also plan to test Boeing’s software upgrade this weekend in Renton, Washington, where Boeing makes the jets and has two simulators.

Southwest’s delegation includes experts from its technical pilot and training teams who will review documentation and training associated with Boeing’s updated speed trim system, spokeswoman Brandy King said.

Meanwhile, Southwest is preparing to begin moving on Saturday its entire MAX fleet to a facility in Victorville, California, at the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert.

“The planes being in one place will be more efficient for performing the repetitive maintenance necessary for stationary aircraft, as well as any future software enhancements that need to take place,” King said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration must approve Boeing’s software changes as well as new pilot training, a process that could take weeks or longer. Regulators in Europe and Canada have said they will conduct their own reviews of any new systems.

United Airlines, the third U.S. operator of the 737 MAX, did not immediately reply to requests for comment on any planned meetings with Boeing regarding the new software.

Boeing shares have fallen 14 percent since the Ethiopian crash, and every day that its jets are grounded comes at a cost both to the manufacturer and the airlines that purchased them for their more fuel-efficient engines and longer range.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Robert Birsel

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