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Healthy Returns

PACESETTER: Healthy Returns

When Miguel "Mike" Fernandez, 53, set out to raise capital for his new private equity fund, MBF Healthcare Partners, so much money poured in that he ended up declining $67 million from would-be investors.

Mike Fernandez, 53

Chairman and Founder: MBF Healthcare Partners, Coral Gables

Born: In Cuba. Grew up in New York City

Resume: Built and sold 12 companies

Education: Humble that he "never made it through college" and making sure his kids do.

Philanthropy: The Fernandez Family Foundation

Getaway: Home in Park City, Utah. Loves hiking around Utah mountains

Management tips: "Encourage mistakes. Just do it, and then fix it. I have yet to start a business that ended with what I thought it would be." With employees: "Hire them, give them direction and an end goal and then give them leeway."Witty and gregarious, Fernandez has demonstrated a Midas touch. In 2002, he sold Physicians Healthcare Plans to Amerigroup Corp. for $181 million, having built it over a decade from a $2-million investment. Barely three years later, he sold CarePlus Health Plans and its medical centers to Humana, reaping well over $300 million in profit from the Medicare HMO he'd acquired just 2.5 years earlier.

All told, he says, his ventures in healthcare over the past 25 years have generated more than $1 billion in returns for Fernandez and his children, who typically are partners in his businesses.

For MBF Healthcare, Fernandez garnered an initial war chest of about $200 million. Unlike most fund managers whose share of the pie is minuscule, he anted up $175 million in family money for the new fund and took in just $25 million from friends. He figures on leveraging that pool of money to $1 billion with debt.

He's on the prowl for businesses in the healthcare space with an enterprise value under $100 million, strong management and sustained earnings for three or more years of $5 million or better.

After scouring some 62 deals, he has zeroed in on two so far: The first is a physician-led business that helps hospitals ensure they get paid by managed-care outfits. A second is a wholesaler in the home-health and infusion business.

"What you buy in any business is the management," says Fernandez. "Bet on the jockey, not the horse."

>> Patricia B. Morrison, who was executive vice president and chief information officer at Fort Lauderdale-based Office Depot, was tapped by Motorola as senior vice president and chief information officer.

>> William E. "Skip" Barnette, formerly president of Atlantic Southeast Airlines, was named president and CEO of Caribbean Star Airlines in St. John's, Antigua, and its sister carrier, Caribbean Sun Airlines based in Fort Lauderdale.

>> Elizabeth M. Hernandez, city attorney for Coral Gables, was named president-elect of the Florida Municipal Attorneys Association and will take the helm of the Tallahassee-based professional group next July.

>> John H. Rooney Jr., a partner at Shutts & Bowen law firm in Miami specializing in international business and arbitration, became chairman of the Florida Bar's international section.

>> Joel Richardson joined AlertSite, a Coconut Creek internet-services concern, as chief financial officer. He was previously CFO of CyLex Systems in Boca Raton.

CEO Spotlight:
Sibling LivelihoodCARLOS DE C?SPEDES, 55


Pharmed Group, Doral

Roots: Born in Cuba, arrived together at ages 11 and 8 through the Pedro Pan program; reunited with parents who arrived in U.S. five years later.

The business: A distributor of more than 25,000 medical, surgical and pharmaceutical supplies to hospitals and medical facilities in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. Also expanding into nutritional supplements.

Founded: 1980 with $1,500

Milestone: Beginning last May, sold "something" to every single hospital in Florida.

Division of labor: Carlos leans toward strategic planning; Jorge handles human resources and finance. "We divide it by osmosis. We never talked about it," says Carlos.

Latest sibling dispute: The brothers say they last argued over a bicycle -- in 1961. Today they both have Bentleys -- black for Carlos, white for Jorge.

Business kicks: Chispa Restaurant in Coral Gables. A minority stake in the entity that owns the Charlotte Bobcats NBA basketball team and Charlotte Sting, a WNBA team.

Tip for entrepreneurs: Confront missteps head on. "The ability to say 'We made a mistake. Let's cut it now,' " says Jorge, "that's important."


>> Prestige Builders Partners, a Miami Lakes condo conversion firm, snapped up six properties comprising more than 1,500 apartment units in Broward and Palm Beach counties, paying $300.3 million to seller Minto Builders of Coconut Creek.

>> Shoma Development Corp. plans to turn a 53-acre site that formerly served as the headquarters of Ryder System into an urban center for the fledgling city of Doral, which incorporated in June 2003. The builder submitted plans for some 2 million square feet of development at Park Square at Doral, including a town center, office and retail space and various types of residential units.

>> CB Richard Ellis clinched the exclusive right to market and sell phase one of Palm Beach County's Bioscience Research Park, covering 163 acres, to biotech firms interested in staking out space in the project.

HEADS UP: Eyeing the Everglades

With little land left to build on in Miami-Dade, developers have stepped up efforts to persuade the county to permit construction closer to the Everglades. At issue is the Urban Development Boundary, which defines western and southern limits beyond which building is restricted to one unit per five acres.

This year, 11 applications to expand the boundary were filed. "We're going to start running out of single-family land in five or six years, and we've got to start planning now," says Jeff Bercow, an attorney at the Miami firm of Bercow & Radell, which represents several builders.

The city of Hialeah has joined the westward push, asking the county to move the line to accommodate industrial development.

The Miami-Dade County Commission is set to grapple with the issue this fall.

Hold the Line, a coalition of environmentalists, neighborhood groups and the like, says in-fill projects in existing urban areas make more sense. But developers argue that with home prices spiraling higher, opening new land for development could provide housing at prices within reach of more workers.

>>PDA - Meetings & EventsDateEventLocationOct. 5-72nd Annual Multicultural Market Intelligence SummitRitz-Carlton Resort Key BiscayneOct. 14Women's Circle of Excellence Workshop and Awards LuncheonWestin Cypress Creek Fort LauderdaleOct. 24-25BioFlorida 8th Annual ConferenceDelray Beach MarriottOct. 26-28American Nurses AssociationMiami Beach Convention Center and Fontainebleau ResortOct. 27-31Fort Lauderdale International Boat ShowVarious sites around the city