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Corporate Report

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  • | 6:00 p.m. April 7, 2006
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Corporate Report

Florida ranks poorly in legal climate survey

Florida has moved out of the bottom 10 nationwide for its legal climate, but it is still lagging behind 37 other states, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform.

The state ranked 38th in the 2006 Harris State Liability Systems Ranking Study; it ranked 42nd last year. Miami-Dade County remains one of the "least fair and reasonable jurisdictions in the country," the report stated.

Tort litigation cost Florida citizens $15 billion in 2005, the report stated. Even so, the chamber credits Florida with attempting to get better, including passing a bill to "weed out frivolous asbestos and silica lawsuits," says Tom Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president.

Grubb & Ellis looks to expand

from Tampa to Sarasota

The commercial real estate firm of Grubb & Ellis|Commercial Florida plans to open a Sarasota office in June. Stevens Tombrink, executive vice president and managing director of the Tampa office, says the Sarasota office will initially be part of the firm's Tampa division. He is currently looking for office space and three agents to staff it.

Eventually, Tombrink said, Grubb & Ellis will open an additional office in the Fort Myers-Naples area. Currently Grubb & Ellis|Commercial Florida has 30 brokers divided among its Tampa, Orlando and Melbourne offices.

Insignia Bank seeks

charter for Sarasota

Charles Brown, who has served as CEO for Charlotte State Bank and Englewood Bank, is heading a group seeking to open a community bank in Sarasota. The potential board includes Tim Clarke, founder of Sarasota-based Clarke Advertising & Public Relations; Cheryl Loeffler a Realtor with Sarasota-based Prudential Palms Realty; Sam Norton, a lawyer with the Sarasota firm Hammersley, Lopez and Skokos, PA; and Mike Pender, a partner with CPA firm Cavanaugh & Company. All of the directors have previous experience on banking boards.

The bank, to be called Insignia Bank, submitted applications to the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and the FDIC, hoping for $25 million in capital. If chartered, the bank will debut in downtown Sarasota later this year, at the current Clarke Advertising building on Fruitville Road.

Taylor Woodrow listed as

Top 100 sustainable company

Corporate Knights Inc. and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors Inc. listed British homebuilder Taylor Woodrow in the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World list. The rankings were complied by choosing companies worldwide that have the best plans to manage environmental, social and governance issues and opportunities. There were 17 companies from the United States on the list, including Nike and GE. Taylor Woodrow has projects throughout Florida, including about 20 along the Gulf Coast.

Source Interlink buys

distribution territory

Bonita Springs-based Source Interlink Companies Inc., a home entertainment products and marketing services firm, purchased magazine and book distribution territories in the Southern California and Washington D.C./Baltimore markets from the Anderson News Co. for about $4 million. Source Interlink also paid about $9 million in cash for the membership interests of Anderson SCN Services LLC.

These acquisitions increase Source Interlink's annual magazine and book sales to about $1 billion.

Manatee County court

gets new software system

Manatee County signed a $1.8 million contract with Dallas-based Tyler Technologies for the use of Odyssey, Tyler's web-based case management system. The company will implement the software in the criminal, civil and traffic courts in Manatee County. The system includes electronic document management for all court documents filed, judicial assignment and scheduling, and management and assessment of court fines and fees. Manatee County is the fourth Florida county to use the system, joining Lee, Monroe and Miami-Dade.

MarineMax buys

NY-based boating company

Clearwater-based MarineMax Inc., one of the nation's largest recreational boat retailers, purchased all of the assets of Surfside-3 Marina Inc. for $24.8 million and about 665,000 shares of MarineMax common stock.

Surfside closed 2005 with more than $140 million in revenue. It operates eight locations and has seven affiliated locations in New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island.

Westlinks Business Park getting

400,000 square feet of space

Bonita Springs-based McGarvey Development plans to expand Westlinks Business Park near Gateway in Fort Myers. The expansion will add a nine-building complex with retail, office and warehouse space on a 46-acre parcel just east of Gateway on Daniels Parkway.

When complete, the development will consist of two retail buildings, two one-story office buildings, two two-story office buildings and three flex-space buildings, which have office/showroom space in front and warehouse facilities in the rear. The complex will be about 400,000 square feet of space. Construction is expected to begin between September and October.

Global Imaging Systems

buys New Mexico Inc.

Tampa-based Global Imaging Systems Inc. purchased Imaging Concepts of New Mexico Inc.; sales figures weren't released. Imaging Concepts sells and services Sharp copiers, fax and multifunction products and is headquartered in Albuquerque, with an additional sales office in Santa Fe. Imaging Concepts, with annual revenues of $7 million, will operate as a part of Denver-based Lewan & Associates, one of Global Imaging's largest core companies.

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center

receives $4.8 million for research

The National Institutes of Health awarded a $4.8 million contract to the University of South Florida's H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. The contract, "Early Therapeutics Development with Phase II Emphasis," starts Jan. 1 and runs through 2008, with a possibility of $3.2 million of more funding for an additional two years.

Earthfirst Technologies

merging with Cast-Crete

Tampa-based Earthfirst Technologies Inc. approved a merger with Seffner-based Cast-Crete Corp, and as part of the deal, Earthfirst will change its name to Cast-Crete. Also, as part of the merger, Earthfirst is planning to incorporate its technology initiatives into a new company named U.S. Sustainable Energy Corp. U.S. Sustainable would become a separate publicly traded company and would merge with CyberCare Technologies Inc.

Two Tampa real estate firms

partner to create new company

Tampa-based AVENTA Real Estate, focusing primarily on the Hispanic market, formed a franchise affiliation with Weichert Real Estate Affiliates Inc. to create the new agency Weichert, Realtors – Aventa. The office is located at 3659 West Waters Ave. in Tampa and is home to about 70 real estate professionals.

Health Management plans bond sale

Naples-based hospital company Health Management Associates plans a $400 million bond sale to refinance existing bank debt.

HMA's securities filing says the notes will mature in April 2016, though it did not specify an interest rate or when the bonds will be sold. Merrill Lynch and Citigroup Global Markets will manage the sale, and the bonds are expected to receive investment-grade ratings of A? by Standard & Poor's and A? by Fitch Ratings. HMA expects to net about $395 million after fees.

HMA, which operates 60 hospitals in predominantly rural areas, has been using bank debt to acquire new hospitals and fund a stock-repurchase program. On Jan. 24, for example, HMA reached a deal to buy the Cleveland Clinic's Naples hospital complex (see above photo). HMA also runs hospitals in the Orlando area.


• St. Petersburg-based First Advantage Corp., a global risk mitigation firm, bought Tokyo-based Brooke Consulting, a regional employment screening company. The purchase price wasn't announced.


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