Business Digest


January 08, 2003

In the Region

GenVec Inc. reports disappointing results in gene therapy trial

GenVec Inc. said yesterday that its gene therapy for treatment of poor blood flow in the legs did not appear to help patients more than a placebo in a Phase II clinical trial.

The Gaithersburg company said it is unlikely to continue development of the drug, BioBypass-PAD, for peripheral vascular disease but will fully analyze results before deciding.

GenVec said it remains optimistic about development of BioBypass CAD, the name of the same gene therapy when it's used in the heart. Recent Phase II results for BioBypass CAD showed that patients with severe coronary artery disease achieved statistically significant improvement in electrocardiogram results six months after taking it -- an indication that the drug holds promise for treating heart patients.

POK starts construction on headquarters expansion

POK of North America Inc., a Cambridge company that makes firefighting equipment for the fire, marine and hazardous environment industries, has begun work on a 20,000-square- foot expansion of its headquarters that will house a new product line and provide jobs for 35 new employees.

POK will receive a $50,000 training assistance grant from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development to aid the expansion. In return, POK has pledged to triple its total employment at the Cambridge site by the end of next year.

POK, which reported a 35 percent increase in sales for 2001, also has facilities in France, Germany, Brazil and Japan.

Gilden Integrated receives $4 million marketing pact

Gilden Integrated said yesterday that it has won a $4 million contract from UbiquiTel Inc., which provides Sprint digital wireless personal communication services to midsize markets in the West and Midwest.

UbiquiTel, based in Conshohocken, Pa., hired the Baltimore agency to handle all marketing and public relations efforts to increase Sprint brand awareness among the 11.1 million people covered by the wireless network. The promotions will target customers in markets in California, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Schmidt Baking gives store to Shenandoah University

Schmidt Baking Co. Inc. of Baltimore has given its former Martinsburg, W.Va., bakery and retail store property to Shenandoah University. The gift is worth an estimated $1.3 million.

The bakery was closed shortly after H&S Bakery Inc., also of Baltimore, bought a majority stake in Schmidt Baking in 1999 and began consolidating operations in a bid to boost profits. Short-term plans call for the university, in Winchester, Va., to lease the retail store and about 17,000 square feet of space in the former bakery back to Schmidt. The company uses space in the bakery for warehouse and distribution purposes.

Eventually, university officials hope to lease the rest of the space to other tenants or possibly seek a buyer for the property, said Bradley C. Snowden, director of planned and major gifts for the university. Proceeds would be used to pay for university programs.


Chrysler decides against renewal of Stewart ad pact

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group has decided not to extend an advertising agreement with Martha Stewart's media company and will enlist Canadian singer Celine Dion to help the automaker sell vehicles.

Chrysler has been running a 12-page advertising and editorial insert in the magazine Martha Stewart Living.

Chrysler spokesman James Kenyon said yesterday that the company made the decision to end its agreement with Stewart before the scandal emerged. Chrysler's contract with Stewart ends in March.

The Justice Department is investigating whether Stewart lied to congressional investigators about her sale of nearly 4,000 shares in ImClone Systems Inc. on Dec. 27, 2001 -- the day before the FDA publicly said it would not review ImClone's application for its colon cancer drug, Erbitux. The home decorating entrepreneur, who has not been charged, has denied wrongdoing.

Oracle would consider dividend if taxes lifted

Oracle Corp.'s board of directors would consider paying a regular dividend if taxes on them were lifted, Jeffrey Henley, chief financial officer of the database software giant, said yesterday.

Oracle, which has more than $5 billion in cash and short-term investments, has never paid a dividend. It has used excess cash to repurchase shares, since stock buybacks were "more tax efficient," Henley said.

"It's quite likely [the board] will have to reconsider our policy," Henley said at an investor conference in New York. "I think [eliminating the dividend tax] would have a significant impact on our thought process."

United, US Airways begin sharing passengers

United Airlines and US Airways, both restructuring in bankruptcy court, became partners in the sky yesterday when they began sharing passengers on 192 daily flights.

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