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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 2, 2007 12 years ago

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Roskamp claims drug fights Alzheimer's PowerTown Line Construction bought by Universal EnergyExecutives, shareholders tender purchase proposal for Ablest Sky Angel skips satellite in Canada, opts for Internet TV Radiation Therapy Services 4Q beats expectations iCap Realty Advisors expands to FloridaGeneral Dynamics' contract grows by nearly $40 million

Corporate Report

by Sean Roth | Real Estate Editor

Roskamp claims drug fights Alzheimer's

The Sarasota-based Roskamp Institute announced the discovery of a class of drugs that lower the production of the main pathological protein that causes Alzheimer's disease. The discovery is detailed in Neuroscience Letters in an article co-authored by Drs. Daniel Paris and Michael Mullan.

The Roskamp Institute, which is devoted to finding treatments for Alzheimer's disease, has been researching drugs that have the potential to stop the production of B-amyloid.

"When B-amyloid builds up in humans, patients develop Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Michael Mullan, Director of the Roskamp Institute in a press release announcing the discovery. "By stopping its production we can potentially stop the disease. We have found a whole family of drugs that can stop the production of B-amyloid, giving many companies working on NF-kB inhibitors the opportunity to test these types of drugs in Alzheimer's."

NF-kB - a protein that occurs in all cells in the body -results in inflammation. NF-kB inhibitors are being widely developed in the pharmaceutical industry primarily for their use in inflammation-caused conditions such as arthritis and, until now, have not been thought of as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's.

The finding that NF-kB controls B-amyloid production means that NF-kB inhibitors might be developed as anti-Alzheimer drugs. An example drug the Roskamp Institute suggested was Celastrol, which is available as a food supplement but has never been formally tested for treating Alzheimer's.

PowerTown Line Construction bought by Universal Energy

Orlando-based Universal Energy Corp. signed a letter of intent to acquire St. Petersburg-based PowerTown Line Construction. Billy Raley, CEO of Universal, attributed the deal to the company's planned corporate growth/diversification strategy and expects the deal to close in about six weeks.

PowerTown Line Construction provides installation and maintenance of power lines.

"With this first acquisition, we continue to build our corporate structure while adding income and financial diversification," Dyron Watford, Universal CFO said in a press release. "It's just a very positive move forward for our business and our stockholders."

Universal Energy Corp. is a diversified energy company currently focused on oil and gas exploration.

Executives, shareholders tender purchase proposal for Ablest

Ablest Inc., a Tampa-based professional employer organization, has received a proposal from some investors, including Charles Heist, III, the chairman of the board; Kurt Moore, president and CEO; The Burton Partnership (QP); and The Burton Partnership to acquire all of the company's public common stock for $7.50 per share in cash. As of Thursday, Jan. 25, the company's stock was trading for $7.60 but its 52-week range ran from $5.92 to $9.95 per share.

Ablest's board of directors formed a special committee of four independent directors to review and evaluate the proposal and any strategic alternatives to the proposal.

Company officials emphasized to stockholders that its board of directors' discussions on the proposal are in the beginning stages.

Ablest supplies more than 37,000 field employees and consultants to approximately 2,000 businesses annually through 60 locations in the Eastern and Southwestern United States.

Sky Angel skips satellite in Canada, opts for Internet TV

Naples-based Sky Angel, a U.S. direct broadcast satellite provider of Christian TV and radio channels and other family programming, has launched the Sky Angel television service throughout Canada in partnership with ShifTV Inc., a Toronto provider of Broadband TV (or IPTV, Internet Protocol Television), which can be watched on any television via a set-top box.

Sky Angel agreed to provide more than 30 TV and radio channels of Christian and family programming to ShifTV for delivery via a high-speed Internet connection to Canadian consumers. The advantage for audiences is access to a broader range of programming as well as the ability to watch programming through their TV set and surf the Internet on their computer simultaneously using the same high-speed connection. In addition, audiences can view Sky Angel on computers using most Internet browsers.

Among the TV channels that are currently available in Canada via Sky Angel IPTV are Sky Angel's exclusive kids and teens channel KTV; the 24-hour Christian music video channel TVU; Trinity Broadcasting Network's full suite of channels that includes TBN, JCTV youth network, Smile of a Child children's network, The Church Channel and TBN Enlace Spanish network; plus Safe TV, Familyland, Faith TV and Angel One. Additional TV and radio channels are expected next month.

"After years of receiving thousands of requests from Canadian Christians for access to the Sky Angel television service, we are pleased to now be able to say, 'Yes, you can receive Sky Angel TV in Canada!'" said Rob Johnson, CEO of Dominion Video Satellite Inc., owner-operator of Sky Angel in a press release detailing the partnership.

Sky Angel delivers more than 30 TV and radio channels of Christian programming, popular family entertainment and 24-hour news though a small satellite dish to consumers for $14.99 a month.

Radiation Therapy Services 4Q beats expectations

Fort Myers-based Radiation Therapy Services Inc. released projected, un-audited financial results for its fourth quarter. The company now expects its fourth quarter revenues will be in the range of $76 million to $78 million, an increase from its previous guidance of $74 million to $77 million. The results are expects to be 18% and 21.1% over the same period in 2005.

Fourth quarter net income is expected to be about $7.2 million ($0.30 per share) compared to previously stated projection of $0.36 per share ($0.38 per share.) If that assessment proves accurate, those results are 8.3% higher than the same period in 2005.

But along with the positive news, Radiation Therapy Services reported that it lost about $900,000 ($0.04 per share) from earnings because of significant adjustments for contractual allowances.

In the fourth quarter, the company also added four surgical and urology practices, a much greater pace than it has in the past. Company officials reported it as part of an acceleration of the company's growth plan for southwest Florida.

Company officials decided to stick with their previous guidance for 2007. It plans to release its full financials on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

iCap Realty Advisors expands to Florida

Detroit-based iCap Realty Advisors, a national mortgage banking company that originates more than $3 billion annually in commercial real estate loans, is expanding to Florida.

The new Florida company, iCap Florida, is a joint venture between Southfield, Mich.-based real estate development/investment REDICO and iCap Michigan. The first office of iCap Florida will be in Fort Myers or Naples and will be the eleventh office of iCap Realty. iCap Florida is expected to open additional regional locations in Florida's other major cities in the next 18 months, including the potential markets of Tampa, Orlando and southeast Florida.

REDICO developed more than 30 million square feet of office, industrial and retail space and has interests in a range of commercial real estate companies, including Naples-based Gates McVey and Fort Myers-based Gates D'Alessandro & Woodyard LLC.

As part of the national iCap organization, iCap Florida will provide developers, owners and investors across Florida with access to about 100 capital sources, including life insurance companies, conduits, mezzanine lenders, equity providers, pension funds, hedge funds and banks.

iCap Florida will initially be led by Adam M. Lutz, principal of iCap Michigan, and Robert W. Leonard, senior director.

General Dynamics' contract grows by nearly $40 million

The U.S. Army Sustainment Command in Rock Island, Ill., awarded St. Petersburg-based General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), a $39.5 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for M865 Target Practice Cone Stabilized Discarding Sabot-Tracer 120mm cartridges.

The M865 target practice round is used in the 120mm, smooth bore M256 cannon of Army and Marine Corps Abrams main battle tanks. The special cartridge is designed to allow practice firings on short-range training areas.

Work on this contract is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2008.

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems is a manufacturer of large- and medium-caliber direct and indirect-fire munitions, bomb bodies and Ball Powder propellant. General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs about 81,100 people worldwide, and expects 2006 revenues of approximately $24 billion.

Etc...

Gross joins Boyd Insurance

Dick Gross recently joined Bradenton-based Boyd Insurance & Investments as vice-president of sales and operations. Dick retired as president of Wyman, Green & Blalock, Inc. in December 2001, after 28 years. Gross received the Chamber's small businessperson of the year award in 1997.

Tropics Software adds Williams

Susan Williams has joined Tropics Software Technologies as quality assurance coordinator. She most recently was employed at VF Corp. in Greensboro, N.C., performing software testing for SAP in the accounting and product costing modules. Tropics Software Technologies is a Sarasota-based software company specializing in and focusing exclusively on the workers' compensation industry.

Turner Tree promotes Andrews

Jay Andrews has been promoted to general manager of the Landscape Division of Bradenton-based Turner Tree and Landscape. Andrews was previously senior production manager for several years. As the new general manager he will be overseeing estimating, customer relations, scheduling and all subcontractors.

Stinger lands Georgia contract

Dougherty County, Ga., will be deploying Tampa-based Stinger Systems' S-200 model projectile stun weapons. "We felt we got great value for our taxpayers while getting what we believe is a superior technology," Sheriff Jamil Saba said in an announcement. Stinger Systems, Inc., a provider of stun technologies, develops and sells a broad array of products utilizing advanced electro sparc-pulsed technology to police, corrections, and security sectors worldwide.

Coast looks for options

Bradenton-based Coast Financial Holdings Inc. hired the investment-banking firm Sandler O'Neill & Partners, L.P. The goal according to the company is to have Sandler O'Neil offer the board of directors an evaluation of the strategic alternatives for the company in response to about $66 million in loan funds that went to homeowners, whose homebuilder has reported financial troubles.

Coast Financial Holdings, Inc. through its banking subsidiary, Coast Bank of Florida, operates 20 full-service banking locations in Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, Florida.

Ultroid expands into Asia

St. Petersburg-based Ultroid Technologies signed an exclusive distribution deal with Asian Medical Inc. to bring Ultroid, a painless hemorrhoid treatment, to an additional twenty-five Pacific Rim nations. The deal will bring Ultroid to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. Two weeks ago, the company announced it received importation rights to introduce Ultroid into the People's Republic of China.

OSI Restaurant pays dividend

Tampa-based OSI Restaurant Partners Inc. declared a quarterly dividend of $0.13 per share of its common stock. The dividend is payable on March 2 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 16. OSI Restaurant Partners operates 948 Outback Steakhouses, 229 Carrabba's Italian Grills, 119 Bonefish Grills, 45 Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bars, 23 Roy's, five Lee Roy Selmon's, one Blue Coral Seafood and Spirits and 38 Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants in 50 states and 20 countries.

Sirion Therapeutics starts trials

Tampa-based Sirion Therapeutics Inc., an eye-focused biopharmaceuticals company, has begun enrollment of two phase-III clinical trials, which will evaluate ST-601 (difluprednate) as a treatment for inflammation following ocular surgery.

ST-601 (difluprednate) was acquired by Sirion last year through an exclusive licensing agreement with Senju Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. of Japan. The agreement gives Sirion the U.S. rights to develop and market a topical ophthalmic emulsion containing the steroid compound difluprednate for the treatment of certain eye diseases.

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