Around the State
Software developer Information Management Resources Inc. acquired transitional outsourcing software company Link Group Holdings Ltd. of the U.K. for about $5.5 million in cash and stock.
Gulf Coast Factory Shops, the biggest outlet mall in west central Florida, is planning an expansion that will almost double its size. The mall's developer, Prime Retail Inc. of Baltimore, will complete the expansion by 2001.
Manifold and hydraulic cartridge manufacturer Sun Hydraulics Corp. will raise roughly $19 million in an initial public offering underwritten by A.G. Edwards & Sons and Robert W. Baird & Co. Two million shares will be offered at $9.50.
The St. Petersburg City Council approved a bailout plan for the Florida International Museum. The city will loan the museum $3.9 million over 29 months. Museum chairman John Galbraith will lose the $8.3 million he spent personally to keep the museum running. The Alexander the Great exhibit, closing in March, will be followed this fall by an exhibition featuring relics from the Titanic. Dropping attendance since the museum's Treasures of the Czars display three years ago had saddled the museum with an $11 million debt.
Republic Bancshares Inc., the parent company of Republic Bank, acquired Orlando's Firstate Financial for $5.5 million in cash. Republic also may buy F.F.O. Financial Group, the holding company for First Federal Savings and Loan of Osceola County. The two purchases would boost Republic's assets from $852 million to over $1 billion.
The Home Shopping Network will consolidate its St. Petersburg merchandise-returns center into its Salem, Va. center and lay off about 250. Those laid off will be given the opportunity to apply for other positions at the St. Petersburg headquarters, which employs 3,500.
Progress Energy Corp., a subsidiary of Florida Progress, and Ionics formed a partnership to bid for a privately financed desalination plant. The water will be used by Florida's largest supplier of wholesale water, the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority. Ionics of Watertown, Mass. has built more than 2,000 desalination plants around the world, including one in Sarasota County.
IMC Mortgage is on a buying spree. The company acquired three loan providers in 1996 and announced in January the acquisition of a California company, giving it nine locations in the West. The company, which specializes in loans to people with poor credit, originated more than $1 billion in loans in 1996 and is seeking a nationwide reach.
Ikon Office Solutions of Valley Forge, Pa., acquired the Waldec Group, a Tampa-based computer systems company with $89 million in projected annual revenues and 190 employees. Waldec will remain in Tampa.
Flight simulator company Reflectone Inc. won a $34 million contract from the Republic of Korea to build two helicopter simulators.
Each year, Florida's $2-billion-a-year concrete industry produces:
Enough ready-mix concrete (18 million cubic yards) to build a highway from New York to Seattle.
Enough masonry blocks (200 million) to build an 8-foot wall from Bangor, Maine, to Los Angeles, a distance of more than 4,000 miles.
Source: The Florida Concrete and Products Association, Orlando
One For The Taxpayers At Auction
Property: Rudder Cut Cay
Size: 363-acre island, Bahamas
Amenities: Private airstrip, pristine beaches, natural harbor, 1-million gallon water storage tank, 3,200-square-foot home
Auctioneer: State Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson
Reason for Sale: Seized by department as part of a $15 million settlement with principals of defunct Guarantee Security Life Insurance, formerly of Jacksonville.
Purchase price: $6.1 million
Purchasers: John and Janet Melk, Chicago
Proceeds: Go to policyholders of the defunct company.
Note: Mary Beth Perry and Dennis Threadgill, lawyers for Dept. of Insurance, handled the sale to save state 10% broker's commission.
Good Press For Pensacola
Recent ratings for Pensacola in the world of lists:
Wall Street Journal:
No. 1 in Florida for back office operations
Wharton Business School:
No. 2 for quality of life in the U.S.
Retirement Places Rated almanac:
No. 4 out of 151 cities
Nation's Business magazine:
No. 8 among top 10 small cities for starting and growing a business.
Laboratory for Coastal Research:
Two of top 10 beaches in U.S.
Ben Hill Griffin III's Alico Inc ..
As Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers comes off a record-breaking year in passenger traffic, the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is holding its own as it struggles in the shadow of Tampa.
The Fort Myers facility counted more than 4 million passengers during 1996; meanwhile, Lee County commissioners have approved construction of a 6,000-square-foot, 350-passenger waiting lounge that they hope will make the airport an international mini-hub. LTU International Airways, a German airline, plans to offer its customers service from Frankfurt to Cancun through Fort Myers. "With the new in-transit lounge, the longest runway on Florida's west coast and far less congestion than many Florida airports, we're in an excellent position to attract more international service,'' says Robert M. Ball, executive director of the Lee County Port Authority.
While the Sarasota-Bradenton airport has no breakthroughs to report, its passenger totals are up and major carriers Delta and TWA have increased the number of flights at the facility. "We had the best December we've had in five years,'' says Ray Wise, the airport's director of marketing and community relations. Long-term, a runway extension is proceeding slowly. One positive development for the airport has been that fares out of Sarasota on major carriers are now near - and in some cases are below - fares out of Tampa. Wise says the airport will continue to explore getting a low-cost carrier but can also grow by enhancing its relationship with the major carriers that now serve it. "I'll be very happy with a 3% to 4% increase each year," he says.