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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 5, 2003 18 years ago

17 Regional Roundup 9/05-9/11/03



BANK EXPANDS INTO NAPLES - Old Florida Bankshares Inc. expanded into Naples with the acquisition of Marine Bancshares Inc., parent of Marine National Bank. The Fort Myers-based bank holding company, parent of Old Florida Bank, acquired a branch office at Airport and Vanderbilt Beach roads as part of the acquisition. Larry Johnson, Old Florida Bankshares president and chief executive officer, described the acquisition as part of a planned strategy to increase his bank's presence in Collier County. The acquisition adds about $55 million in assets to Old Florida's existing assets of about $110 million.

F.N.B. RECOGNIZED - F.N.B. Corp., parent of First National Bank of Florida, was recognized as a dividend achiever by Mergent Inc., a 103-year-old business research group out of North Carolina that publishes "FIS Annuals/U.S." The distinction recognizes the corporation's 29 consecutive years of increasing its dividend payments.


NEW SERVICE AT PORT AUTHORITY - The Tampa Port Authority is starting a new weekly container shipping service between the Port of Tampa and Jamaica, Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co's hub in Kingston. Zim, one of the world's largest global container shipping companies, offers transportation services along the major international trade routes.

ANCHOR GLASS FILES IPO - Tampa's Anchor Glass Container Corp., which has gone through two bankruptcy reorganizations, has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering designed to raise $144 million. The IPO is being co-managed by Credit Suisse First Boston and Merrill Lynch.

WALTER LOWERS EARNINGS GUIDANCE - Tampa's Walter Industries Inc. again lowered its 2003 estimate for earnings from continued operations, citing adverse geologic conditions at Jim Walter Resources, increased scrap iron costs at U.S. Pipe & Foundry and lower revenue due to delays in housing starts by the homebuilding group. The company expects to generate earnings in the range of $.70 to $.80 per diluted share, a reduction from the previous estimate of $1.30 to $1.40.


FINDWHAT EXPANDS - plans to acquire Miva Corp., a supplier of e-commerce software services, in exchange for $5.5 million in cash and the assumption of about $2.5 million in outstanding notes and other liabilities. The Fort Myers-based developer and provider of Internet marketing services made the announcement just as its publicly traded stock neared the 52-week high of $25.49. Shares closed Sept. 2 at $23.42, up $1.60 a share.

CHICO EARINGS RISE - Chico's FAS Inc. reported record earnings for the second quarter ended Aug. 2. The Fort Myers-based distributor of private-label women's clothing reported net income of $24.5 million, or 28 cents a share, on net store sales of $166.9 million for the three-month period. That compares with net income of $16.4 million, or 20 cents a share, on net store sales of $120.1 million for the same period a year ago.

INDUSTRIAL BUILDING SELLS - Metro Investment Fund LLC acquired a 26,000-square-foot industrial building on about 2 acres at 12160 Metro Parkway for $1.9 million. The Fort Myers-based buyer, which is controlled by real estate developer O.J. Buigas, paid about $73 a square foot to Metrovest LLC, a company controlled by William R. Tucker. Gary Tasman of Grubb & Ellis/VIP represented the buyer, and Paul A. Sands of Grubb & Ellis/VIP represented the seller.


NEW PRODUCE IMPORTER - Pompano Beach-based Magellan Farms LLC plans to import cantaloupes, honeydews and watermelons from Honduras through Port Manatee. This is the second produce importer to use Port Manatee. Ships would likely start arriving in December. C&D Fruit & Vegetable Co. will also be importing cucumbers on the same ships. To date, the only produce shipper using Port Manatee is Fresh Del Monte Produce Co.

ZONING FIGHT - About 12 developers and attorneys attended a Bradenton Beach City Commission meeting Aug. 29 to object to the possible elimination of multi-family zoning in the city. Developers and attorneys argued the city would face a number of lawsuits over the decision under the Birch R. Harris Act of 1995. The commission previously voted to allow residents to consider the issue in a non-binding referendum. The zoning discussion focuses on concerns by many in the city on the continued decline of permanent, year-round residents.


JOBS MIGRATE EAST - United Modular has notified state labor officials that it will layoff 181 workers at two manufacturing plants in St. Petersburg on Sept. 22. The maker of modular school classrooms, which is owned by California-based Modtech Holdings Inc., is moving most of the jobs to a plant that the parent company bought in Plant City in January.

DIGITAL RESULTS DISMAL - Digital Lightwave Inc. reported a $10 million loss, or 32 cents a share, for the quarter that ended June 30, compared with a $12 million or 38 cents-a-share loss for the same 2002 period. The Clearwater maker of fiber-optic monitors sees the losses continuing. Digital creditors have gone to court demanding $20 million in delinquent payments and penalties, according to the company.


AQUATIC INCREASES DEALERS - Aquatic Attractors, exclusive Florida dealer of underwater lighting systems, plans to triple its number of dealer resellers in the next 12 months. The company's submersible lights illuminate a seascape or riverbed, such as around a dock, up to an 18-foot diameter, attracting fish and marine life, essentially creating a giant natural aquarium. The company has 11 dealers in 14 counties in Florida, with 30 lighting systems installed in Sarasota County alone.

TECHHOUSE GOES GOLD - TechHouse, a 7-year-old IT solutions and consulting company in Sarasota, has achieved Gold Certified Partner for Business Intelligence status with Microsoft. TechHouse is one of only two companies in Florida to achieve the distinction.

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