In the Region Commerce approves expansion of city's...

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 27, 2001

In the Region

Commerce approves expansion of city's foreign trade zone

Baltimore's Foreign Trade Zone No. 74 has been approved for a major expansion by the Foreign-Trade Zones Board of the U.S. Commerce Department, the Baltimore Development Corp. announced yesterday.

Foreign-trade zones are seen as catalysts for international commerce because of the breaks they can offer on tariffs or excise taxes. The local foreign trade zone - previously 286 acres - now is composed of 1,464 acres at 11 sites, said the BDC, the city economic development agency that also operates the trade zone.

The sites are zoned industrial and include facilities for warehouses and distribution facilities, as well as for assembly, packaging and manufacturing activities. Last year, businesses in the trade zone employed more than 970 people.

Compaq agrees to buy Internet consulting firm

Compaq Computer Corp., the largest personal-computer maker, agreed to buy Internet consulting company Proxicom Inc. for $266 million in cash to strengthen its services for the telecommunications and financial services industries.

The Reston, Va.,-based Internet company's shareholders will receive $5.75 a share in the deal. That's 33 percent more than Proxicom's closing price yesterday of $4.33. Compaq said it might buy other companies with expertise in other service businesses.

With the purchase, Houston-based Compaq is following companies such as International Business Machines Corp. and Hewlett Packard Co. that are offering more services to customers as profit margins from computer sales narrow, said David Grossman, an analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners. Proxicom has 950 employees and specializes in developing Web sites. Proxicom said its clients include AOL Time Warner Inc., General Electric Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co.

Fla. software firm expects to close on Sequoia purchase

Citrix Systems Inc., a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based software company, said yesterday that it expects to close on its purchase of Sequoia Software Corp. next week after successfully completing its tender offer for outstanding shares of the Columbia-based company.

About 29.7 million shares of Sequoia were tendered by Wednesday's midnight deadline. With about 500,000 shares already guaranteed, Citrix holds 97.3 percent of Sequoia's outstanding shares.

Citrix said in a news release that it expects to complete its acquisition of Sequoia on or about May 1. Citrix will complete the acquisition by merging a wholly owned subsidiary into Sequoia, with Sequoia remaining as a wholly owned subsidiary of Citrix. About 200 of Sequoia's 240 employees will remain in Columbia. Sequoia develops "Web portals" for businesses to interact with clients, customers and suppliers on the Internet.

Antex Biologics issued a patent for protein

Gaithersburg-based Antex Biologics Inc. announced yesterday that it has been issued a patent on a Moraxella catarrhalis protein.

The protein could be used as a vaccine to prevent middle ear infections in infants and children, as well as respiratory tract disease in elderly people. Antex has licensed the use of the patent to Glaxo SmithKline, which is responsible for the development of the protein as a vaccine.

Antex, along with its subsidiary AntexPharma, is a biopharmaceutical company that develops and markets new products to prevent and treat infections, among other uses.

Biospherics gets patent for low-calorie sweetener

Beltsville-based Biospherics Inc. said yesterday that it has been awarded a U.S. patent for use of tagatose, its low-calorie sweetener, as a drug aimed at improving fertility and helping to control excessive eating among pregnant women.

The patent is based on experiments in rats. The experiments showed that higher doses of tagatose resulted in a greater number of pregnancies from matings by tagatose-eating animals compared with matings among those who weren't fed the sugarlike sweetener.

Tagatose received approval for use in foods and beverages on April 11 from an independent panel of qualified experts, a finding that effectively cleared the way for its sale in the United States.

TeleCommunication Systems reports net loss

TeleCommunication Systems Inc., an Annapolis-based developer of wireless messaging software, reported a net loss of $8.3 million for the first quarter of 2001 that ended March 31.

That excluded a nonrecurring $9.7 million write-off associated with the acquisition in January of Xypoint Corp. The company reported a loss per share of 31 cents, compared with a loss of 8 cents per share for its first quarter last year.

Total revenue was $17.1 million, a 42 percent increase over the $12.1 million reported in 2000. The increase includes about $2.8 million in revenues from Xypoint, which was acquired in January 2001. Gross profit grew by 83 percent to $8.1 million compared with $4.4 million on a pro forma basis in the first quarter of last year.

Elsewhere

Nasdaq announces plans to be for-profit stock exchange

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