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Nabi Bio

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Job Market Cools In South Florida

South Florida has slipped out of the top 10 in a ranking of the nation's hottest job markets. The region ranked 10th in an analysis by Bizjournals.com in mid-2006, but dropped to 16th in the latest analysis of mid-year 2007 employment statistics.

The analysis comes as the U.S. Labor Department reported that the nation's payrolls shrank by 4,000 jobs in August, the first decline since 2003. There's growing worry the housing slowdown and shrinking payrolls could lead to a recession.

While South Florida still had relatively strong job growth, it has cooled by recent standards. The 26,500 jobs gained from mid-2006 to mid-2007 were slightly more than half the yearly average of 49,250 from 2002 to 2006.

The region created about half the number of jobs as the Phoenix area, which had the top score of 21.6 in the Bizjournals.com analysis. South Florida's score was 6.52. The analysis looks at percentage of job growth over one, two, three, four and five year periods, along with the actual number of jobs added, the unemployment rate and the one year change in the unemployment rate. Florida cities in general slipped in the Bizjournals.com ranking. Cape Coral Fort Myers fell from first to ninth, Orlando from fifth to 12th, Jacksonville from 14th to 19th and the Tampa Bay area from 11th to 27th.


Nabi sells for $185 million

Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, long the largest biotechnology firm in South Florida, has agreed to sell its Boca Raton operations and headquarters to a German pharmaceutical firm for $185 million. Dogged by investors hoping to raise a flagging share price in the past year, the company is selling its immunology drug line, which includes its only remaining drug on the market, Nabi-HB for Hepatitis B. The deal, signed with Biotest AG, also includes Nabi's plasma protein production plant and nine plasma collection centers nationwide. That leaves the company with its longtime research and development operations in Rockville, MD., which will serve as its new corporate home. There, the company said it will focus on developing NicVax, its smoking cessation drug that's nine months into its yearlong, second-phase clinical trial.

Nabi also will keep StaphVax, its staph infection drug that failed its third-phase trials in 2005, sending the company's stock price spiraling downward. The company said it's searching for larger pharmaceutical partners to help it push StaphVax and NicVax into the next phases of drug testing. In the last year, Nabi has significantly trimmed down, selling off its PhosLo drug franchise for up to $150 million in November and Aloprim cancer injection treatment for $3.7 million in April. It retooled its management, replacing embattled CEO Tom McLain in February, and has been in talks with Banc of America Securities LLC to sell off its biologics arm for months due to investor pressure to see higher returns for their dollars.


Trade mission to Canada takes off

Largest Canadian companies in South Florida:

Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto: 400 employees
Nortel, Toronto: 400 employees
Coreslab Structures, Ontario: 200 employees
Bombardier Aerospace, Montreal: 150 employees
RBC Financial Group, Toronto: 100 employees

Source: Who' s Here Directory

Canada has been Florida's tried-and-true trading partner for years. But we forget the value of our northerly neighbors, some say. Later this month, local trade officials are leading South Florida's first-ever tri-county trade mission to Canada, partially to woo companies to our region and partially to remind Floridians that, despite the hype about Latin America, Canada is our largest economic partner.

Members of the Beacon Council, Broward Alliance and Business Development Board of Palm Beach County are taking the joint trip, Sept. 23-27. They will travel through Toronto and Montreal, hosting business receptions and Canadian media briefings, and meeting with corporate executives to make a case for investing in South Florida. The group of 25 or so delegates will concentrate on four sectors that Canada and South Florida share strength in: aviation and aerospace, financial services, information technology and the life sciences.

SouthFlorida.BizJournals.com.



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