Miami-Dade Business Briefs - March 2006
? Struggling to stem falling sales, Burger King announced what has long been expected: It plans to go public by the end of the first quarter, which ends this month. Three private equity firms, Texas Pacific Group, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, bought the No. 2 restaurant chain for $1.5 billion in 2002. "Our goal has always been to take Burger King public," says CEO Greg Brenneman. Meanwhile, city officials have approved plans for a $68-million headquarters for company, paving the way for its relocation from the Blue Lagoon area near Miami International Airport.
? Mail-order giant ABC Distributing, one of the city's largest private employers, will shut down this summer, laying off close to 1,000. Company executives say a restructuring plan transferred operations out
? Continuing its consolidation trend, National Healthcare Staffing, which provides staffing services in the nursing field to healthcare facilities, has acquired North Carolina's VITA Medical Staffing and MedStaff Carolinas.
? Planeta Networks has merged with Greensboro, N.C.'s Batanga. The new company, to be headquartered in Miami, will operate as Hispanic Media.
? Ecuador, Peru and El Salvador are the latest countries to endorse Miami's bid for the headquarters of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. But ratification of FTAA is still in question. U.S. officials had hoped CAFTA, a Central American treaty, would kick-start the failed talks, but free-trade critics blocked its passage at last fall's Summit of the Americas in Argentina.
? As part of a companywide restructuring, Chicago-based Smurfit-Stone Container will close its Miami box-making facility, laying off about 80.
? Florida International University has broken ground on a $45-million expansion to its graduate and undergraduate business schools. The new facility will house classrooms, student services, and faculty and administrative offices.
? SFBC International (Nasdaq-SFCC), a Miami firm that provides human testing and other drug development services to the pharmaceutical industry, will relocate to Princeton, N.J. The company has been under scrutiny recently from county code enforcement officials, federal regulators and congressional overseers after reports of unsafe conditions, ethical violations and other irregularities. In January, CEO Arnold Hantman and Chairman Lisa Krinsky resigned.
? With the jury deadlocked, a federal judge has declared a mistrial in the high-profile bank and securities fraud trial of former Hamilton Bank CEO Eduardo A. Masferrer.
? Miami-based Royal Caribbean has ordered the biggest and most expensive cruise ship yet, a $1.24-billion behemoth with a 6,400-passenger capacity. The ship will weigh 220,000 tons and measure 1,180 feet long, 154 feet wide and 240 feet high. Rival Carnival Corp. is considering building a similar ship but has expressed concerns about the costs involved. Carnival-owned Cunard currently has the largest cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2, which weighs 151,400 tons.
? Hoping to boost convention trade, the Doral Resort & Spa has broken ground on a 60,000-sq.-ft. conference center and 24,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. The expansion, doubling its existing meeting space, will be complete by 2007.
? Citing a glut of hospital beds at nearby facilities, state regulators have rebuffed a plan by Mount Sinai Medical Center to build a hospital in northeast Miami-Dade.
NORTH MIAMI BEACH --
? French furniture maker Bois & Chiffons has opened its first U.S. store here. The company expects to open three more Florida stores by the end of the year.