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Talecris to get big break-up fees if Grifols' deal is scrapped

The Spanish company that plans to buy Talecris Biotherapeutics for $4 billion will owe some hefty break-up fees if it scraps the deal.

If Grifols drops the acquisition because it's blocked by antitrust regulators or the company can't raise the necessary financing, it will owe Talecris $375 million, according to filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Such fees are standard clauses for a merger involving publicly traded companies.

But Grifols' potential payout is much higher than the $75 million break-up fee Talecris received last year. It got the money when its $3.1 billion buyout by CSL Ltd. of Australia was called off after that deal ran into opposition from U.S. antitrust regulators.

Syngenta Biotech to demolish RTP building

Syngenta Biotechnology will soon begin demolishing a 110,000 square-foot building in Research Triangle Park, as it finalizes plans for its Triangle campus.

The company, which develops genetically engineered seeds and other products, bought the building on Davis Drive and 50 acres adjacent to its main RTP site late last year.

Syngenta also has moved some of its more than 400 local employees into 100,000 square feet of leased space in Keystone Office Park while it renovates and expands its main facility nearby at Cornwallis Drive. The company will run shuttles to move its workers between the two sites.

Talecris agrees to $4 billion takeover by Spanish firm

A Spanish firm plans to swallow the Triangle's largest biotechnology company.

Grifols SA of Spain announced this morning it plans to buy Talecris Biotherapeutics for about $4 billion, nearly nine months after Talecris' shares began trading publicly. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2010.

The deal combines two companies that create medicines from donated blood plasma. Talecris gives Grifols a strong presence in the U.S. and Canada.

The union is just the latest twist for Talecris, based in Research Triangle Park, and its employees -- about 4,700 worldwide, including more than 2,200 in the Triangle. Many of those people work at Talecris' massive facility in Clayton, which the company is expanding after receiving the promise of up to $20 million in state and local incentives.

Talecris shares closed at $20.01, up 25 percent for the day.

Quintiles lays off "limited" number of employees

Durham-based Quintiles Transnational Corp laid off an undisclosed number of employees Thursday as the company looks for more efficient ways to conduct clinical trials for its customers.

"I can tell you that it's very limited," Quintiles spokesman Phil Bridges said. "And it is not limited to this area." 

The company did not file a notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, something that is required by federal law any time a company is planning to shut down a facility or lay off a large number of workers.

Bridges also said Quintiles continues to hire in areas where the company needs additional resources. The company lists 351 job openings in the U.S. on its Web site.

Quintiles, the largest contract drug research company in the world, has more than 20,000 employees working in 60 countries. About 1,400 are located in the Triangle.

State and local officials have promised Quintiles incentives worth up to $25 million over 12 years. Thus far the company has exceeded the requirements of a state incentives package it was awarded in 2006.

Quintiles was started more than 25 years ago by former UNC-Chapel Hill professor Dennis Gillings.

Gillings took the company private in 2003 and no longer has to disclose detailed financial reports. The company's global revenue is reportedly approaching $3 billion.

Talecris shares to join biotech index

Talecris Biotherapeutics investors got a bit of good news today.

Shares of the Triangle's largest biotechnology company will be added to the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index next Monday. The index currently has 123 members.

Talecris will be one of nine new stocks that will be added (four companies will be dropped).

Inclusion on the index was a safe bet for Talecris, since the index includes most of the biotech companies that are listed on the Nasdaq. But being added to the index does have benefits: Stocks often rise when they're added as mutual funds and other investors buy the new securities for their portfolios.

Talecris shares rose 24 cents today to close at $17.97. The stock remains below the $19 per-share price where it began trading publicly last fall.

Talecris makes medicines from blood plasma at a Clayton factory that's being expanded. Investors have worried recently that the company's ability to raise prices for drugs will be hampered by the economy and health-reform legislation.

The company employs more than 4,700 people worldwide, including more than 2,200 in the Triangle.

Talecris' revenue and profit rise

Talecris Biotherapeutics, the Triangle's largest biotechnology company, reported stronger first-quarter financial results this afternoon.

In addition, the Research Triangle Park company reaffirmed its previous financial projections for 2010. Talecris' shares have fallen sharply in the past week after one of its top rivals, Baxter International, cut its forecast for this year because of higher costs related to the federal health-care overhaul.

Talecris' drugs, produced from blood plasma by more than 1,500 people at a massive Clayton factory, are used to treat various genetic and chronic illnesses. Its biggest product is Gamunex, which is used to treat a type of immune deficiency and other diseases.

Higher sales of Gamunex during the first quarter offset lower prices paid by the Medicaid system as a result of the new health reform law. The company continues to expand its sales and marketing efforts, said CEO Lawrence Stern, in a prepared statement.

"As a result of those efforts, we are on track to deliver our growth targets for the full year 2010," he said.

Talecris names two board members at inaugural stockholders meeting

Talecris Biotherapeutics, the Triangle's largest biotechnology company, held its first ever annual stockholders meeting this morning in Chapel Hill.

About a half dozen attendees, including a lone retiree, turned up to enjoy a spread of croissants, fresh fruit and coffee at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill.

Talecris CEO Lawrence Stern interpreted the light crowd as a good sign.

"That it's a small turnout, in my mind, is a good thing, because it shows there are no concerns out there," Stern said after the meeting.

Talecris, which makes medicines from blood plasma at its massive Clayton manufacturing plant, raised $950 million in an initial public offering last fall. The Research Triangle Park company elected two people, Paul N. Clark and Kenneth J. Martin, to its board this morning.

Stern said Talecris has begun initial site work on the expansion of its Clayton plant. In November, the company received a package of tax breaks and other financial aid worth nearly $20 million as part of the expansion, which will create 259 jobs over the next seven years.

The first stage will be a $280 million facility to separate proteins in blood plasma that are used to make medicine. That project will take several years to open, a process that will require approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Talecris owns one building in RTP and leases office and lab space in three others. The company also leases space on N.C. State's Centennial Campus and operates 69 plasma collection centers.

Stern said this morning that it's logical to assume that Talecris will eventually need additional office space as it continues to grow, but the company has no formal plans at the moment to add new space.

Oxygen Biotherapeutics files to raise up to $75 million

Oxygen Biotherapeutics, a small Durham company developing products to treat various ailments and injuries by increasing the delivery of oxygen to damaged tissue, filed plans late Friday to raise as much as $75 million by selling more shares.

The so-called shelf registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission allows Oxygen to sell shares from time to time. Oxygen plans to use any money raised for expansion and to pay for further clinical testing of new products.

The company, which employs 21 people, has outgrown its current space and is considering whether to lease or buy bigger space in this region, said CEO Chris Stern.

Busy days for Durham venture capitalist

It's been a busy few weeks for Art Pappas.

As co-chairman of Biotech 2010, he spent some time preparing for the conference last Monday and Tuesday. He then worked the room at the event, which drew more than 1,200 people to the Raleigh Convention Center.

Also last week, Pappas was quoted in a Wall Street Journal story about venture capitalists who invest in promising drugs that big pharmaceutical companies have cast off. The article mentioned Afferent Pharmaceuticals, one of the companies that Pappas Ventures of Durham has backed.

And the New York Times mentioned Plexxikon, another Pappas-backed biotechnology company, in an article about using genetics to improve cancer treatments.

The biggest news came today, when yet another Pappas-backed company based in California, Anthera Pharmaceuticals, ended a dry spell for U.S. IPOs.

Biolex raises $10 million for duckweed drugs

A Pittsboro biotechnology company using a genetically engineered pond plant to develop an experimental treatment for hepatitis C now has more money for its mission.

Biolex Therapeutics raised $10 million from its existing investors, the private company reported in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company, which scrapped plans in 2008 for an initial public offering of stock, raised $60 million from venture capital investors in the fall of 2008.

The money will be used to continue clinical testing of its Locteron treatment for hepatitis C. Biolex produces the active ingredient of Locteron using Lemna, an aquatic plant also known as duckweed.

Company officials, including CEO Jan Turek, are scheduled to present interim results from Locetron clinical trials at an April liver conference in Vienna, Austria. The drug will require additional testing before Biolex can seek regulatory approval.

Biolex also is using its technology of genetically modifying duckweed to develop experimental drugs to dissolve blood clots and to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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