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Corporate Report

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  • | 6:00 p.m. December 29, 2006
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Corporate Report

CORPORATE REPORT by Sean Roth | Real Estate Editor

Moffitt, Merck partnering to study cancer care

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute at the University of South Florida in Tampa is collaborating with a Merck & Co. Inc. affiliate to expand its efforts in research and biotech with the goal of developing personalized medicine.

The collaboration is designed to develop a new research initiative to improve cancer prevention and treatment by using molecular technology to enhance the ability to diagnose and treat patients.

The project will involve the collection of tumor tissues and clinical data from thousands of patients in Florida. Moffitt and Merck will analyze patients' tumors to identify the genetic fingerprints or the biological markers that are unique to those tumors with the hope of learning which drugs or treatments are most effective for a particular patient or type of cancer.

To facilitate the deal, Moffitt will form a for-profit company, M2GEN, near its current campus. The state of Florida, Hillsborough County and City of Tampa, are providing economic incentives to bring this biotechnology effort to Florida.

The research initiative is also expected to draw new, high paying jobs to Florida as well as serve as a magnet for other companies to help create a robust biotechnology industry in the Tampa Bay area.

"This groundbreaking partnership will lead to the discovery and development of new diagnostics and cancer drugs as well as the creation of new biomedical companies in our state," Gov. Jeb Bush said in a press release. "This is a milestone day for Florida, not only in terms of strengthening the state's reputation as a hub for world-class biomedical research, but also in terms of our ability to propel scientific discovery that will save lives."

Progress Energy inks deal with Shady Hills Power

Progress Energy Florida, a St. Petersburg-based subsidiary of Progress Energy, signed a long-term, wholesale agreement to buy power from Shady Hills Power Co. LLC. Under the agreement, Shady Hills will provide Progress Energy Florida 500 megawatts of capacity and associated energy for 10 years, extending an existing agreement that will expire in 2014.

The Shady Hills plant, in Pasco County, is owned by Mirant and fueled by three natural gas turbine units. The entire output of the facility will be used to supply a portion of Progress Energy Florida's growing capacity needs through 2024. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Progress Energy Florida's 35-county service territory is projected to grow by 25% in the next decade.

NeoGenomics offers new service, partnership with pathologists

Fort Myers-based NeoGenomics Inc. has unveiled a technical-only fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) testing service aimed at pathologists across the country. This service allows pathologist customers to make money from FISH testing by letting them professionally analyze and interpret test results on specimens where the technical component of the testing was performed at NeoGenomics Laboratories.

"FISH has become a valuable tool and widely accepted technology in diagnosing cancers," Robert Gasparini said in a press release announcing the new product. "Until now, pathologists really had no way to participate in this revenue stream unless they were willing to open up a full-service, high-complexity, CLIA-certified FISH laboratory. With our new product, we can help pathologists enter into the FISH market by teaching them to interpret the technical results that come out of our laboratory. "

Gasparini estimates that based on a $70 per probe reimbursement by Medicare, a pathology practice can make about $245 per FISH test by performing the professional component itself.

While it's pitching its services as a moneymaker to pathologists, the upside from each test is even more significant to NeoGenomics. The company makes $400 to $500 per test, of which 50-60% ends up as gross revenue.

In other NeoGenomics news, company officials reported that a decline in users of its lab's GPS services bottomed out in October and have improved in November and December. At the same time, revenue for the reference lab is still expected to be down by $200,000 in the fourth quarter from where it was in the third quarter and lower by about $600,000 from where it was in the second quarter.

NeoGenomics Inc. is a high-complexity clinical laboratory that specializes in cancer genetics diagnostic testing.

Kimball Electronics offers cash for Tampa's Reptron

Kimball Electronics Group, a Jasper, Ind.-headquartered division of Kimball International Inc., signed a definitive agreement to acquire Tampa-based Reptron Electronics Inc. for $0.68 per share. The price represents a premium of 28% to Reptron's three-month volume weighted average stock price of $0.53.

The transaction is subject to the completion of a cash tender offer for Reptron's outstanding senior notes, shareholder approval, and other approvals. The cash tender for Reptron's outstanding senior notes, to be funded by Kimball, will be initiated by Reptron on or about Dec. 22 and is subject to a minimum acceptance of 97% unless waived by Kimball.

Reptron has executed support agreements with holders of more than 80% of the senior notes committing to participate in the tender offer. The two companies expect to consummate the sale in the first quarter of 2007.

"This acquisition supports Kimball's ongoing strategy to diversify from our automotive base into end markets that also require high quality and reliability," said Don Charron, president of Kimball Electronics, in a press release.

Jefferies Broadview, a division of Jefferies & Co. Inc., is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Reptron and has delivered a fairness opinion to Reptron's board of directors. Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, PC is acting as legal counsel to Reptron and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP is acting as legal counsel to Kimball.


• Ker's WingHouse Bar & Grill, a Largo-based restaurant chain that specializes in hot wings and WingHouse Girls, will open its fifth Texas location in Dallas, this one at 10310 Lombardy Lane, Dallas, 

WingHouse owner and former Dallas Cowboy, Crawford Ker, has made clear his plans to build up the Florida market first and then enter the Texas market.

Ker Inc., the management company for Ker's WingHouse, operates 17 restaurants in Florida and four in Texas. The chain, with estimated growth of at least three to four new units annually, employs more than 2,500 people with 2005 revenue of more than $60 million. Crawford and his wife Melissa currently reside in Largo, Florida. 

• Consulting Intelligence LLC, a Tampa-based consultant-monitoring firm, is holding a confidential Web survey asking for participates to rate their satisfaction with consultants. Bob Brown, managing director of says the subject of Consulting Intelligence suggests that possible incompetence or malfeasance on the part of some consulting firms is increasingly being discussed within client organizations, but is vastly under reported. The survey is being offered through Jan. 19.

• Radiation Therapy Services Inc. released its 2007 financial guidance. Company officials expect to report total revenue of $350 to $375 million, earnings per share of $1.60 to $1.66 and an operating margin expansion of 50 to 100 basis points. Radiation Therapy Services, which operates radiation treatment centers primarily under the name 21st Century Oncology, operates 76 treatment centers clustered into 24 local markets in 15 states.

• The Asian-telecom/financial company aggregator Tampa-based IA Global Inc. is projecting revenue of $6-$7 million for the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares to the revenue of $4.48 million for the three months ended Sept. 30. Company president, Mark Scott, reported strong activity for the telecommunication and medical insurance product lines and that the company had positioned itself into higher margin telecommunications contracts in September. IA Global officials expect to release final results for the fourth quarter by March 31.

• Sarasota-based Signs Now, a division of the Allegra Network LLC, has partnered with the Advertising Specialty Institute, enrolling 30 Signs Now franchise owners as members of ASI. The agreement with ASI provides opportunities for all Signs Now franchise owners to become ASI members. The basic membership package includes access to more than 750,000 ad specialties and 3,400 suppliers through its ESP Online marketing and research tool, Website design and hosting services with LogoMall Websites, shipping discounts with UPS, access to special credit reports from Experian and admissions to ASI Show events.

Founded in 1983, the Signs Now service base includes multiple solutions and digital imaging for outdoor and indoor signage, exhibit and vehicle graphics, magnetic signs, banners, window graphics, ADA signage, dimensional letters, directional systems and other visual communications tools.

• Sarasota-based Sun Hydraulics Corp.'s board of directors decided to issue a $0.10 per share dividend on its common stock. The dividend is payable on Jan. 15, to shareholders of record as of Dec. 31. Sun Hydraulics Corp. is a designer and manufacturer of high performance screw-in hydraulic cartridge valves and manifolds for worldwide industrial and mobile users.

• Country Store Interiors hired Sarasota-based advertising and communications agency Stephen A. Smith & Associates to execute their new logo and identity package design including print and television advertising, Web site redesign and sales promotion brochure. 

• St. Petersburg's Maximo Marina, the West Coast of Florida's largest covered marina, has been designated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as a Clean Marina. The designation signifies that Maximo meets a higher environmental standard level that limits the potential impact on marine life and reduces pollution.

Maximo is managed by Merican Marina Management LLC, a Frank Maggio-owned company. Maximo features 45 acres of wet slip boat storage, high and dry with inside and outside rack storage, a service department and bait and tackle shop. The marina is currently undergoing extensive renovations.

• The Sarasota Coastal Credit Union recently moved its Venice branch from the previous location in Bird Bay Plaza to a freestanding branch building specifically suited for its needs located at 1485 E. Venice Avenue. 

• Sarasota-based Lee Wetherington Companies promoted Matt Cannon to director of sales and Meredith Rogers to operations manager.

Cannon had been named sales manager in June 2006 and was promoted to Sales Director this fall. He oversees sales operations for Lee Wetherington Homes and Wetherington Signature Homes, the homebuilding divisions of Lee Wetherington Companies. He also represents Lee Wetherington Realty as its principal broker. 

Meredith Rogers is responsible for ensuring the quality and timeliness of home production operations, troubleshooting problems in the construction area and interfacing the construction department with other areas of the company. 

• Tampa-based IA Global Inc. announced that its 36% owned subsidiary, Australian Secured Financial Ltd., declared and paid a dividend to its stockholders on Dec. 18. IA Global received 540,000 Australian Dollars, or about $422,000 at the current exchange rates.

IA Global Inc. is a public holding company focused on acquiring primarily Asian Pacific companies that operate in the telecommunication and finance markets. Australian Secured Financial Ltd. is a lending firm that among its other services provides short-term loans for business or investment in Australia that are secured by real property.

• Tampa-based Walter Industries Inc. named vice chairman and general counsel Vic Patrick and Jim Walter Resource Inc.'s chief executive officer George Richmond to its board of directors. Both will also continue on in their previous roles.

Patrick was named vice chairman of Walter Industries in August. He has been the company's general counsel since joining Walter Industries in August 2002. Prior to joining Walter Industries, he was vice president, secretary and deputy general counsel for Honeywell International Inc. Richmond has been chief executive officer of Jim Walter Resources since February. Prior to that, he had been president and chief operating officer for the company since June of 1997. He joined the Jim Walter Resource in 1978.

• Bravo Real Estate, a Sarasota-based real estate firm, says it is the first company in the region to showcase all of its full service listings on Zillow ( Zillow announced just a week ago that it would allow agents and home owners list homes that are for sale on its website.

Bravo Real Estate also recently finalized setting up a listing feed for Trulia, another top ranked real estate website and search engine.

• The University of South Florida at Sarasota-Manatee has announced the introduction of five new courses in Information Security, three of which will be offered for the spring semester beginning in January 2007, to meet the demand for information security specialists. Students will learn how to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of sensitive information while it is being processed, moved or stored. The classes are recommended for undergraduates in Information Technology, as well as people already employed in the field of IT.

• Tampa-based Global Imaging Systems Inc. announced that Joseph Payne, 46, has been appointed president of MWB Copy Products Inc., a Global core company based in Cypress, Calif., with multiple locations throughout Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. He succeeds Tom Metzler, president of West Coast operations for Global, who has headed up the MWB staff on an interim basis during the search for a new company president.

• Anna Pohl's Mattison's catering director was named to the Top 20 under 40 Biz Bash, a catering and event planning trade publications. Mattison's is a Sarasota-based restaurant operating company headed by Chef Paul Mattison.

• A new nationally chartered bank and trust company, FineMark National Bank & Trust, is schedule to open in Fort Myers early next year.

Florida Ever-Glides Inc. and The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota have partnered to offer Segway Personal Transporter tours from The Ritz-Carlton.

• Raleigh, N.C.-based bank RBC Centura Bank promoted Scott Williams to Florida regional president of commercial markets responsible for overseeing operations in Sarasota, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.

Williams' position was created to support the bank's growing presence throughout Florida. At Provident, Bank Williams managed the commercial and business banking teams. He was also one of the original founders of Enterprise National Bank before it was sold to Provident Bank in 1997.

Williams will continue to be based in RBC Centura's Sarasota office.

• Bradenton-based PEO firm Gevity has opened offices in Austin, Texas, and San Antonio.

• Dr. Steve Mamus, a medical oncologist, has founded the Cancer Center of Sarasota at 3830 Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota. The center is designed to deliver personalized, one-on-one attention combined with a university level of expertise to patients diagnosed with all types of cancer and blood disorders. Mamus was chief of Medical Oncology, and most recently a principal partner of Cancer Centers of Florida (a division of U.S. Oncology).

• Joseph Dobzynski, Director of Operations for Sarasota's Amanatee Group has been named an ambassador for the web application software company, CoffeeCup.

• Sarasota County's Green Business Partnership awarded its newest certification to Used Stuff Inc. in Sarasota. The Green Business Partnership is a collaborative effort between businesses and local government, encouraging commercial recycling and other sustainable operating practices. The Partnership said Used Stuff exemplified the best principles of reuse. The company buys and sells used furniture, doors, windows, countertops and other materials from home renovations.


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