Stories for May 2010

Monday, May 31

Cubic Reports Growth in Transportation, Defense Sectors

MANUFACTURING: Company Lands Big Transit System Deal; Military Services Revenues Rise

It’s been a busy month for Cubic Corp., which wrapped up the acquisition of a Silicon Valley logistics tracking company and landed a major contract to build a fare collection system for Sydney, Australia.

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Battling Economic Enemies

FINANCE: Fraud Cases Rising; Technology Aids Thieves

Fraud “really wreaks havoc on a person’s life,” said Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego County’s district attorney.

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Interactive Advertising Leaps Forward With ‘Wizardly’ Technology

MEDIA: Advertisers Find Creative Ways to Extend Their Mobile, Online Reach

Interactive advertising, the latest iteration of promoting products and services that relies on real-time feedback, is one of the rare industries that is not only surviving but thriving in these recessionary times.

Promotions Mingle Comfortably Among Social Networking Crowd

ADVERTISING: Soft Sell Has Traction in Connected Environment

Todd Little first learned about the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Baja California, Mexico, on April 4 within minutes on his mobile phone via the popular social networking site Twitter.

Executive Profile — John McKusick

John McKusick is co-founder of Geary Group, a holding company providing marketing services to digital marketers.

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Ad Agencies Look to New Media to Maximize Dwindling Resources

MARKETING: Industry Adapts to Ever-Changing Communication Formats

While organizations have been trimming their budgets the past couple of years, marketing and advertising were some of the first expenses to be dropped, leaving professionals in these industries scrambling to keep their agencies afloat and manage with fewer clients.

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With Housing in the Lead, Building Industry Bounces Back

REAL ESTATE: Welcome Increase in Building Activity Follows a Four-Year Slump

San Diego County’s building industry showed some signs of life in the first four months of 2010, with the overall value of residential and commercial building permits rising 1.6 percent from the same period of 2009.

PPH Tests Latest Technology in Advance of Opening New Facility

HEALTH CARE: Palomar Pomerado Health Trying Out Next-Generation Tools

In anticipation of its new Escondido hospital opening in 2012, Palomar Pomerado Health has put roaming “robot doctors” and patient wristband bar-coding systems to the test.

Solar Electric System Developer Seeks Slice of Billion-Dollar Pie

ENERGY: Firm Leases Space at Schools, Delivers Solar Power to Campuses

Seeking its place in the sun, Solana Beach-based Amsolar Corp. has chosen to align itself with schools.

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Businesses in Need of More Computer Help

TECHNOLOGY: A Quarter of Positions Go to Out-of-Town Hires

Although it still feels like a recession for many industries, people with information technology skills are finding lots of job openings as more companies upgrade outmoded equipment and software and resume postponed projects.

Recession Likely to Linger After Brief Relief, Economist Says

FINANCE: But Region’s Employment, Housing Are Showing Signs of Recovery

The San Diego region as well as the nation are clearly in an economic recovery and will do well this year, but after that all bets are off, according to a recent forecast by Beacon Economics.

Se San Diego Joins Hundreds of Hotels Falling Into Default

REAL ESTATE: Luxury Property Latest to Struggle With Hefty Loan Payments

An unfriendly operating climate has taken its toll on another downtown San Diego hotel property — the latest of more than 30 in the region and 400 statewide to enter some stage of default.

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Gala Brings in $100K for Abuse Prevention Efforts

Kudos/Giving

Home Start raised $100,000 at its 2010 Blue Ribbon Gala on April 24. The funds help Home Start to focus on child abuse education for the community, prevention and early intervention services.

Local Developers Find Work Far From Home

REAL ESTATE: Working Out of State, They Take on Troubled Projects

Two San Diego-based companies are counting on a gradually brightening economic picture to help them jump-start long-delayed residential projects outside of California.

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Health Care Reform Package Provides $1B Tax Credit for Biotechs

LIFE SCIENCES: Funds to Help Small Businesses Get Through ‘Valley of Death’

Small biotech and medical device companies in San Diego are looking into a new grant opportunity that would provide up to $5 million apiece to offset a portion of their research and development costs.

Friday, May 28

Construction Firm Named for Central Courthouse Project

Redwood City-based Rudolph and Sletten Inc., which has regional operations in San Diego, has been selected to manage construction of a planned $633.9 million San Diego County courthouse building.

Life Tech Buys German Maker of Custom Genes

On the heels of major synthetic biology advances made by J. Craig Venter’s institute, Life Technologies Corp. said May 28 it has acquired a majority stake in Geneart AG, a German company making synthetic genes for researchers.

Council Seeks to Court More Food Processors

When it comes to food processing plants, South San Diego County is sizzling.

Thursday, May 27

San Diego Economic Index Retains Upward Momentum

USD’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators for the region rose 0.2 percent in April, marking the 13th month in a row the index has increased.

Wednesday, May 26

Pharma Verges on Selling Off Company or Drug

San Diego-based hepatitis C drug developer Anadys Pharmaceuticals Inc. said May 26 that it has hired an adviser to explore “strategic alternatives” for the company.

Man Sentenced in Fraudulent Currency Trading Scheme

Mark Todd Hauze, convicted by a federal jury in January of 15 felonies associated with a fraudulent currency trading operation, was sentenced to nine years in prison and three years of supervised release.

Tuesday, May 25

Sign of the Times? Fewer Tax Notices Go Into the Mail

In another sign that a recovery is under way, county Treasurer-Tax Collector Dan McAllister says he’s sending out fewer delinquency notices to those who haven’t paid their property tax bills on time.

Monday, May 24

Cymer Opens Office in Silicon Valley

Cymer Inc., the San Diego maker of laser equipment used in semiconductor manufacturing, announced May 24 that it has opened an office in Santa Clara.

Solving Infrastructure Problems Takes Civic Vision

A recent report published by the Urban Land Institute, “Infrastructure 2010: Investment Imperative,” argues that the U.S. is fundamentally deficient in both the amount, and state of, infrastructure, including roads, rail, energy, water and sewer systems.

Building Owners Tasked With Tracking Energy Use, Divulging Data

REAL ESTATE: New Law To Require Disclosure as Properties Are Leased, Sold

Proponents say a new California law requiring commercial building owners to disclose energy-use data — now expected to take effect Jan. 1, 2011 — should make properties more competitive, while giving potential buyers and renters a more precise way to comparison shop for energy-efficient spaces.

Test Results Push Anadys Shares Higher

Anadys Pharmaceuticals Inc. said May 21 that its experimental hepatitis C drug met its primary goal in a small, midstage Phase 2 study, sending the company’s shares up 7 percent to $2.40.

Jobless Rate Declines in April to 10.4 Percent

San Diego County’s unemployment rate dipped to 10.4 percent in April, from March’s rate of 11 percent, according to the May 21 report from the state’s Employment Development Department.

Regional Report

News and notes from communities around San Diego County

Animals Get the Benefit of Petco Foundation’s Million-Dollar Gift

The Petco Foundation announced a $1 million grant to support the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA at the annual San Diego Walk for Animals event held May 1.

Sales and Leases

Sales and leases in and around San Diego County.

Real Estate Roundup

Real estate news in and around San Diego county.

San Diego People

New hires and promotions in and around San Diego County.

Executive Profile: Kenneth D. Polin

Kenneth D. Polin is a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP who specializes in mergers and acquisitions.

Turbulent Economy Reshaping the Local M&A Model

FINANCE: Brokers Foresee Uptick in Transaction Volume

Company merger and acquisition activity is picking up in San Diego, fueled by the improved economy, say deal brokers.

Accountants, Attorneys Invaluable to Life-or-Death Business Deals

Work Force: Pros Say Due Diligence Vital to Ownership Transfers

Businesses intent on buying another business, selling their own or merging count on their attorneys and accountants to advise, guide and protect them as they proceed with growing and changing for success.

Burst of M&A Activity Signals Hope For Growth This Year

FINANCE: Medical Sector a Driving Force Behind Big Local Deals

Squeezed credit markets put a damper on deal-making last year, but a few cash-strong companies were able to acquire their competitors at discount prices.

San Marcos Is a Hub of Wheel of Fortune

I love writing about positive happenings in the economy. There is a lot more reader fulfillment in stories about successful people than in stories about bankruptcy, lawsuits and business failures.

Fans Aren’t Saying Take Me Out to Padres Games

For a while, it almost seemed as if local fans weren’t buying into the San Diego Padres as winners. Despite the team’s surprising position in first place in its division, attendance at Petco Park lagged behind last year’s lackluster numbers.

Senomyx’s Flavor Enhancers Complement Quest for Healthier Food Products

With a major push to reduce the calorie content in American foods, several of the nation’s biggest food companies have voluntarily committed to cutting salt, sugar and trans fats from their products.

City Council Gives Green Light to $200M Hazard Center Makeover

The San Diego City Council has approved plans for a $200 million redevelopment of the 20-year-old Hazard Center in Mission Valley.

Borrego Springs Bank Reveals Increase in Problem Loans

Borrego Springs Bank, which is owned by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and is the first American Indian-owned bank in the state, is still having loan problems.

Halozyme Therapeutics Recalls Drug, Contacts Manufacturer

Halozyme Therapeutics Inc. is voluntarily recalling lots of its Hylenex drug, after some of the product’s vials were found to contain flakes of glass, it said May 17.

Barney & Barney Acquires Insurance Services Company

San Diego insurance brokerage Barney & Barney LLC said May 13 that it acquired Los Alamitos-based Virtual Cosourcing Solutions, a service provider to insurance companies.

Qualcomm and Its Partners Revive Lifecomm Project

Qualcomm Inc. has resurrected its Lifecomm project, a GPS-enabled emergency tracking device for seniors and their caregivers, in a three-way partnership announced May 14.

Loss Drops Dramatically At NextWave Wireless

NextWave Wireless Inc., whose main subsidiary is San Diego software firm PacketVideo Corp., reported a first quarter net loss of $3.4 million, compared to a net loss for the like quarter of 2009 of $82.2 million, the company said May 18.

Cubic Buys Business That Tracks Vehicles, Containers

Cubic Corp. said May 18 that it acquired the assets of Impeva Labs Inc., a Mountain View-based provider of asset management and security software, for an undisclosed price.

Trius Therapeutics Receives $29.5M Defense Contract

Trius Therapeutics said May 19 it won a U.S. Department of Defense contract to develop new antibiotics aimed at life-threatening bacterial pathogens. The four-and-a-half-year contract is valued at $29.5 million.

FDA, House Put Consumer Genomics Under the Microscope

HEALTH CARE: Retailer Halts Sale of Genetic Test Kits, Feds Launch Inquiry

A San Diego company’s stalled plans to sell personal genetic testing kits at Walgreen Co. drugstores has prompted a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigation over direct-to-consumer kits sold over the Internet.

Internet Security Test May Help Firm CAPTCHA More Customers

TECHNOLOGY: Product Eases Burden of Reading Wiggly Letters to Access Web

A picture is worth a thousand words. And it might be just as valuable in the fight against spammers.

Redwood City-Based IT Services Provider Buys The I.T. Pros

TECHNOLOGY: CEO of S.D. Firm Now Directs Consulting Services

All Covered, a Redwood City-based information technology services provider, acquired The I.T. Pros, a Mission Valley-based IT support company, in a transaction that closed April 26.

Fanita Ranch Owners Trying to Abandon Project

REAL ESTATE: Housing Development Represents City’s Future, Santee Says

The owners of Fanita Ranch, a planned 1,400-unit housing development in Santee, are seeking court approval to abandon that project and preserve its natural state.

Economic Downturn Leads to Downsized Event

REAL ESTATE: Retail Industry Has 1 Fewer Days To Say ‘Let’s Make a Deal’

Organizers and participants still deem it crucial in the realm of retail property deal-making. But the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual spring convention in Las Vegas, taking place May 23-25, has been downsized this year, from four days to three.

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Business School At USD Earns High Marks

Lest you missed the good news a few days back … University of San Diego’s business school does it again. Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine gives the school very high marks, especially in accounting, marketing and micro and macroeconomics, all in the top 20.

Fashion Valley Mall to Receive $15M Refresh

REAL ESTATE: Operator to Make Exterior and Interior Renovations

Mall operator Simon Property Group Inc. is planning a $15 million, 14-month overhaul of its popular Fashion Valley in San Diego.

Fitness Equipment Maker Rolls On

MANUFACTURING: Company Reports Sales Increases Averaging 30 Percent Annually

As many are realizing these days, smaller is sometimes much better.

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Scientists Succeed in Creating Synthetic Cell

Fifteen years after researchers with the J. Craig Venter Institute first set out to create artificial life forms capable of self-renewal, a team led by the namesake genomics pioneer said May 20 that it has succeeded in creating the world’s first synthetic cell.

Driving for Dollars

PHILANTHROPY: Century Club Turns Passion For Golf Into Support for Monarch School

The quiet of Monarch School, at the foot of Cedar Street in downtown San Diego, is punctuated by train horns on this Wednesday morning while students bear down for their instructional day.

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Friday, May 21

Douglas Wilson Cos. Has New Project and New Division

San Diego-based Douglas Wilson Cos. has been named court-appointed receiver for Garden Grove Galleria, an unfinished Orange County mixed-use building whose original projected cost was $50 million.

Federal Grant Helps Sorrento Therapeutics Attack Staph

Sorrento Therapeutics Inc. said May 21 it has been awarded a two-year federal government grant worth $600,000 to support its development of new antibody drugs and vaccines for combating staph infections, including MRSA.

Ligand Pays $2.75M for Drug

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. said May 21 it paid $2.75 million to acquire rights to an experimental asthma drug under development by MedImmune LLC, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca.

Scientists Succeed in Creating Synthetic Cell

Fifteen years after researchers with the J. Craig Venter Institute first set out to create artificial life forms capable of self-renewal, a team led by the namesake genomics pioneer said May 20 that it has succeeded in creating the world’s first synthetic cell.

Honorary German Consul Named

Stephan Hollmann, president of Pacific Aerospace Resources and Technologies LLC, was named honorary consul for Germany serving San Diego and Imperial counties, the German Consulate announced May 19.

Thursday, May 20

Trius Therapeutics Gets $29.5M Defense Contract

Trius Therapeutics Inc. said May 19 it won a U.S. Department of Defense contract to develop new antibiotics aimed at life-threatening bacterial pathogens.

Wednesday, May 19

Chula Vista Bay Front Plans Make It Across One Hurdle

Officials with the Port of San Diego and the city of Chula Vista have granted final local approvals necessary for planned development of the Chula Vista bay front. Plans will next be reviewed by state agencies.

San Diego Approves Hazard Center Revamp

The San Diego City Council has approved plans for a $200 million redevelopment of the 20-year-old Hazard Center in Mission Valley.

NextWave Wireless Cuts Loss Dramatically

NextWave Wireless Inc., whose main subsidiary is San Diego software firm PacketVideo Corp., reported a first quarter net loss of $3.4 million, compared to a net loss for the like quarter of 2009 of $82.2 million, the company said May 18.

Tuesday, May 18

Cubic Acquires Business That Tracks Vehicles, Containers

Cubic Corp. said May 18 that it acquired the assets of Impeva Labs Inc., a Mountain View-based provider of asset management and security software, for an undisclosed price.

CareFusion Completes $225M Acquisition

CareFusion Corp., a San Diego-based medical device company, reported May 17 that it completed its acquisition of Medegen Inc. for $225 million in cash.

SAIC to Make Air Navigation Systems in San Diego

SAIC said May 17 that it received a prime contract to supply the U.S. Air Force with 19 deployable tactical air navigation systems. The three-year deal will be worth more than $24 million.

Halozyme Recalls Drug

Halozyme Therapeutics Inc. is voluntarily recalling lots of its Hylenex drug, after some of the product’s vials were found to contain flakes of glass, it said May 17.

Monday, May 17

It Takes Discipline for Companies to Be Creative

We often think of creativity striking at unannounced and unpredictable moments. It can happen that way, but it’s not the only way it does.

Real Estate Roundup

Real estate news in and around San Diego County.

Sensing the Web

INTERNET: Focus on Security Propels Websense Growth

The coming of the Internet, combined with the age-old human tendency to misbehave, has given rise to a sprawling security software industry.

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Uber-Rich Afford the Luxury of Personalized Advisory Teams

FINANCE: Well-Heeled With $50M-Plus in Assets Tap Wealth of Services

While plenty of banks, even some small community banks, say they offer a smorgasbord of services under the catchall phrase “private banking,” when it comes to serving the wealthiest clients there are distinctions.

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Wealth Managers Temper Market Volatility With Objective Strategies

FINANCE: Services Help Affluent Clients Sort Complex Options

With various financial crises taking place globally along with declining asset values and lower trading volumes, the wealthy are looking for assurance and expecting more from their financial managers.

Keep Homeless Shelter Out of Business District

While it’s not a perfect world, I’d venture to say there are many agencies and resources in place today to help those people in our community who have no place to live as a result of a sudden financial calamity or mental illness.

Wireless Health Care Holds Promise for Innovative Solutions

HEALTH CARE: Local Conference Spotlights Wireless Technology Innovations, Tools for Solving the Industry’s Trickiest Problems

In the past, home health agencies interested in keeping track of their mobile caregivers had few options at their disposal.

Peregrine Semiconductor, IBM in Joint Venture

MANUFACTURING: S.D. Company Reports Increases in Sales, Work Force

Peregrine Semiconductor Corp. has long produced its chips used in wireless applications in Asia, but its latest announcement of a joint venture with IBM would create their cutting edge, radio frequency products in Vermont.

City Council to Vote on $200M Face-Lift for Hazard Center

DEVELOPMENT: OliverMcMillan Plans to Add 21- and 22-Story Residential Towers in Mission Valley

An early but aging example of smart-growth development in San Diego is headed for a vote by the City Council, with officials scheduled on May 18 to discuss a planned $200 million redevelopment of Hazard Center in Mission Valley.

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Anti-Tax Group Reveals Finalists For Fleece Awards

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association is scheduled to reveal the finalists for its annual Golden Fleece Awards at a banquet May 20.

Environmental Pact for Chula Vista Bay Front Approved

REAL ESTATE: Port, Green Coalition Agree to Protect Sensitive Habitats

Port authorities and environmental advocates have agreed on measures aimed at protecting sensitive habitats, among issues deemed crucial in moving forward on planned development of the Chula Vista bay front.

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Tough Market Aids Affordable-Housing Builders

CONSTRUCTION: Lower Prices for Properties Make Projects Cost-Effective

It may not last a lot longer, but the past two years’ tough market for condo and other housing builders has been a boon for agencies that develop affordable apartments in the San Diego region.

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Sales and Leases

Sales and leases in and around San Diego County

Longtime SDSU Volunteers Pledge $4M to Support Campus Library

San Diego State University received a $4 million commitment from Charles and Robin Luby, which was announced at the Monty Awards on April 24.

City to Issue $168M In Lease Revenue Refunding Bonds

FINANCE: Refinancings To Result in Savings, But Largest Refunding Won’t

The city of San Diego, among the state’s biggest issuers of municipal debt last year, plans to issue $168 million in lease revenue refunding bonds this week that combine three past bond issues, including Qualcomm Stadium bonds.

1st Pacific’s Failure Proves Opportunistic for City National Bank

Until May 7, City National Bank, based in Beverly Hills, didn’t have much of a presence in San Diego, but that obviously changed when it acquired failed 1st Pacific Bank of California.

Ultrasounds on Cell Phones Leads Swedish Company to San Diego

HEALTH CARE: Software Enables Sharing of Images Via Cellular Networks

In the era of instantaneous information, a Swedish mobile health startup has introduced a way for mothers to send and receive ultrasound images of their unborn babies using a cell phone.

Cubic’s Australia Transit Deal May Surpass $500M

Cubic Corp.’s Transportation Systems Division said May 10 it signed a contract valued at $370 million to provide electronic smart card ticketing services to the Sydney, Australia mass transit system.

Connecticut Firm Buys Rubio’s Chain for $91M

Mill Road Capital of Greenwich, Conn., has agreed to buy Rubio’s Inc., a Carlsbad-based Mexican eatery chain, for $91 million, the companies said May 10.

Foundation Gives New Boost to West Wireless

San Diego’s West Wireless Health Institute, formed in early 2009 to advance wireless solutions for the health care industry, announced a $20 million grant May 12 that will support the institute’s biomedical engineering research.

Nassco Issues Layoff Notices To 22 Percent of Workers

Nassco/General Dynamics Corp. has let 900 employees know they could be laid off in mid-July, a shipyard spokesman said May 13. The shipyard also said it may eliminate up to 250 subcontractor positions.

Regional Report

News and notes from communities around San Diego County.

Office Market Teeters on a Turning Point, Say Forum Executives

It’s well documented that office property buyers and renters are finding bargains in a national and local market where vacancies remain high and landlords are offering incentives galore to lure and retain tenants.

Kratos Defense & Security Shareholder Lawsuit Settled

A settlement was reached recently in a 2004 derivative lawsuit that accused San Diego’s Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc. and its executives of breaching their fiduciary duties by improperly accounting for foreign taxes and by backdating stock options.

Assortment of Services Distinguish Private Bankers From Stockbrokers

WORK FORCE: Consider Expertise When Entrusting A Fortune to Advisers

Private banking — exclusive services offering the charm of being treated bourgeoisie — conjures the image of the Savile Row suit-wearing Swiss gentleman who knows his clients by their numbers-only bank account and can acquire for them everything from a hotel room on the Riviera in August to a bulletproof Mercedes-Benz.

Executive Profile: Mary Cunningham

Mary Cunningham is president and CEO of USA Federal Credit Union, a nonprofit, member-owned financial cooperative offering financial services to consumers and small-business owners.

San Diego People

Recent promotions and new hires in and around San Diego.

Friday, May 14

Barney & Barney Acquires Los Alamitos Firm

San Diego insurance brokerage Barney & Barney LLC said May 13 that it acquired Los Alamitos-based Virtual Cosourcing Solutions, a service provider to insurance companies. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

S&P Cuts Outlook for Jack in the Box

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services lowered the outlook for San Diego-based Jack in the Box Inc. on May 14 to negative from its earlier stable outlook, following the company’s second quarter results this week.

Qualcomm, Partners Revive Lifecomm Project

Qualcomm Inc. has resurrected its Lifecomm project, a GPS-enabled emergency tracking device for seniors and their caregivers, in a three-way partnership announced May 14.

Real Estate Trust Buys Texas Retail Center

San Diego-based Excel Trust Inc., a retail-focused real estate investment trust or REIT, has acquired a Texas shopping center for $21.85 million.

Bike to Work Day Approaches; Event Gets Cycles in Gear

The San Diego Association of Governments, the regional transportation and planning agency, hosts a Bike to Work Day Tune Up event May 15 from 8 a.m. to noon at Balboa Park at Redwood Circle near the Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street entrance.

SDG&E Closes $250M Bond Offering

San Diego Gas & Electric Co., a unit of Sempra Energy, closed a public offering for $250 million in 30-year mortgage bonds May 13, using a minority-owned investment bank as one of four lead underwriters.

Thursday, May 13

Nassco May Lay Off 22 Percent of Workers

Nassco/General Dynamics Corp. has let 900 employees know they could be laid off in mid-July, a shipyard spokesman said May 13. The shipyard also said it may eliminate up to 250 subcontractor positions.

Wednesday, May 12

Foundation Gives New Boost to West Wireless

San Diego’s West Wireless Health Institute, formed in early 2009 to advance wireless solutions for the health care industry, is expected to announce a $20 million grant May 12 that will support the institute’s biomedical engineering research.

First Pac Trust Bancorp Profit Contrasts With Last Year

First Pac Trust Bancorp, parent of Pacific Trust Bank in Chula Vista with more than $900 million in assets, reported first quarter net profit of $875,000, compared to a net loss of $2.6 million for the like quarter last year.

Tuesday, May 11

McMillin Pursues Development at Missouri Resort

San Diego-based McMillin Communities, a new development and home-building company formed by the Corky McMillin family, has entered into a partnership developing a resort community in Branson, Mo., McMillin said May 10.

Cubic Catches Australia Mass Transit Deal

Cubic Corp.’s Transportation Systems Division said May 10 it signed a contract valued at $370 million to provide electronic smart card ticketing services to the Sydney, Australia mass transit system.

Pathway Genomics Takes Tests to Corner Drugstore

Pathway Genomics, a San Diego-based startup that offers genetic testing, is expected to announce May 11 that it will begin selling its kits at Walgreens drugstores.

Monday, May 10

Regulators Close 1st Pacific Bank

1st Pacific Bank of California’s six branches opened May 10 under the ownership of Beverly Hills-based City National Bank, which assumed control after state bank regulators shuttered the $336 million asset bank May 7 because of inadequate capital and other material weaknesses.

Astute Medical Closes $26.5M Funding Round

Astute Medical, a San Diego-based maker of medical tests for hospital-acquired infections, has closed a $26.5 million round of venture financing.

Rubio’s Sells for $91M

Mill Road Capital of Greenwich, Conn., has agreed to buy Rubio’s Inc., a Carlsbad-based Mexican eatery chain, for $91 million, the companies said May 10.

Retailers Splurge a Little to Reach Penny-Pinching Customers

SMALL BUSINESS: Entrepreneurs Invest in Upgrading Facilities and Online, Delivery Services

There was a time when a customer at Steve O’Connell’s surf shop might have found two $700 surfboards he liked, and if he was unable to make up his mind about purchasing one, bought them both.

Scripps Institute Scientist Applauds Patent Office Ruling

Two consumer groups and a local scientist who joined in the fight to reclaim public rights to key human embryonic stem cell lines claimed a major victory recently when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reversed course on an earlier decision.

Economy Getting Back on Track As Re-Balancing Is Under Way

North County is starting to see signs of economic recovery. Everything from dozens of new restaurants, hotels, motels and schools to road improvements, retail outlets and remodeling projects have created hundreds of new jobs.

California Bank & Trust in Black After $50M Net Loss

California Bank & Trust, San Diego’s largest lender with about $11 billion in total assets, broke into the black in the first quarter following last year’s net loss of $50 million.

Broadway Lofts Recapitalized; Hotels on the Rebound; New Real Estate Index

A century after it was built, one of downtown San Diego’s oldest high-rises underwent a 21st-century financial renovation.

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Regional Report

News and notes from communities around San Diego County

Local Solar Energy Firm Envisions Bright Future

ENERGY: Reverse Merger Lets Company Go Public

Bob Noble, founder and chief executive of Envision Solar, a locally based designer of solar installations, looks at parking lots much differently than most people.

Investment Climate Favors Return to Multifamily Market

REAL ESTATE: Lower Than Average Vacancy Rate Helps Stir Demand

After a nearly five-year lull, experts say investors are gradually wading back into San Diego County’s multifamily property market.

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SanDiego.com on The Block By Former Owner

Mark Burgess, former owner of foreclosed Web site SanDiego.com, was shopping the struggling business ahead of a May 7 public auction to sell off the assets.

Cost-Cutting Moves Lead to Profitable Year For Biotech Industry

BIOTECH: San Diego’s Public Biotechs See Net Loss Increase 38 Percent, Revenues Rise

Despite one of the worst financial meltdowns in history, the biotechnology industry achieved collective profitability for the first time last year, according to a recent report.

Mutual Fund Manager Is in for the Long Haul

FINANCE: La Jolla-Based Operation Has Outperformed S&P 500 Index Fund

When the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points one day last week, San Diego mutual fund portfolio manager Art Johnson hardly blinked.

Jobs, Homes, Education Keys to Area’s Future

Recently, someone asked me if there will ever again be a recovery and resale market for higher priced homes (e.g., those $800,000 and above).

Shopping Center Landlords Waiting For Local Retail Market to Improve

REAL ESTATE: Vacancy Rate Climbs, Leasing Prices Fall

National retail sales trended upward in the first quarter as frugal consumers trickled back into stores and restaurants. But even in San Diego County, ranked by industry observers among the nation’s strongest retail markets, shopping center landlords weren’t feeling the love.

Anvita Health Uses Analytics to Improve Health Care System

TECHNOLOGY: Company Developing Products That Support Decision Making

Anesthesiologist Ahmed Ghouri noticed a growing problem in his practice: Access to real-time information that could help doctors make critical decisions, such as whether to give a drug or order a test, was missing.

Executive Profile: Michelle Metter and Ken Loyst

Michelle Metter and Ken Loyst are partners of Fast Forward Event Productions, an event management and marketing solutions provider specializing in trade and consumer events and conferences, brand activation, and environmental marketing strategies.

Organovo Aims to ‘Print’ Replacement Organs for Humans

BIOTECH: Company Harnesses Patient’s Own Cells to Regenerate Body Parts

Patients living with impaired or diseased organs typically have few options at their disposal. Surgical interventions can repair organs, but the worst cases require transplants, and sometimes right away.

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Credit Union-Sponsored Walks Raise $616K for MS Research

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Pacific South Coast Chapter held its San Diego County Credit Union 2010 Walk MS events April 24 and 25.

Sales and Leases

Sales and leases in and around San Diego County

Real Estate Roundup

Real estate news in and around San Diego County

San Diego People

Recent hires and promotions in and around San Diego County

Cutting-Edge Firms Take Conservative Steps to Stay Afloat

TECHNOLOGY: Startups Stretch Their Resources And Prioritize Spending

High-tech startups that have joined the ranks of companies fighting for money and survival say gearing up for the future is an unnerving task that relies on optimism — an outlook they’re not yet ready to adopt.

Lean Strategies Help Manufacturers Cope With Down Cycle

SMALL BUSINESS: Companies at a Crossroads Consider Hiring Prospects

Small local manufacturers are starting to see a rising demand for products such as cutting tools, exterior signs and sheet metal as they begin to recover from a down economy that has thrown a wrench into their factories, resulting in cutbacks and thousands of laid-off workers.

Military Projects Come at Vital Time for Builders

CONSTRUCTION: More Than $1 Billion Worth of Work Under Way at Pendleton

The hum of construction at San Diego County military bases is music to the ears of a beleaguered construction industry. Authorities project that about $4 billion in contracts, being enacted through fiscal year 2012, will at least partially offset a dramatic and lingering downturn in private-sector residential and commercial projects since the start of the Great Recession.

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Friday, May 7

Upper Deck Laying Off 119 Workers

The Upper Deck Co., a Carlsbad-based maker of sports trading cards, will lay off 119 workers effective May 10, according to a company filing with the California Employment Development Department.

SEC: Former Part Owner of Torrey Pines Securities Swindled Investors

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil fraud charges against the former part owner of San Diego-based Torrey Pines Securities Inc. for making misrepresentations about a $17.6 million unregistered private offering, the agency announced May 6.

Optimer Pharmaceuticals Names New CEO

Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc., which is developing a late-stage drug for C. diff bacterial infections, has named a new CEO.

Thursday, May 6

FDA to Review Amylin Diabetes Drug in October

San Diego-based drug maker Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. said May 6 that it will have to wait until Oct. 22 for a regulatory decision on its once-weekly diabetes drug Bydureon.

Wednesday, May 5

Judge Approves Sequenom’s $14M Settlement With Shareholders

A San Diego federal judge has approved Sequenom Inc.’s $14 million settlement with shareholders, the company said May 5.

Local Health Care Providers Get $15M for IT Systems

The federal government has awarded $15.3 million to a group of San Diego hospitals, clinics and emergency response teams that will serve as a model for widespread use of health information technology systems in an effort to drive more efficient patient care.

Tuesday, May 4

Sempra Earnings Plummet in First Quarter

Sempra Energy reported first-quarter net income of $106 million, or 42 cents per diluted share, down from net income of $316 million, or $1.29 per diluted share, for the like quarter of 2009.

Local Saks Fifth Avenue Store Closing

Fashionistas who fancy retailer Saks Fifth Avenue clothing will have to find an alternate place to shop following the May 3 announcement that the New York store will close its Fashion Valley outlet by July 17.

Solar Energy Planning Firm Goes Public

Envision Solar, a San Diego-based solar energy planning firm, said its stock began trading May 3 on the OTC Bulletin Board under the ticker EVSI.OB.

Monday, May 3

Althea Acquires Assets From Bankrupt Biotech

San Diego-based biotech contract manufacturer Althea Technologies has acquired intellectual property and other assets from Altus Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based biotech that filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection late last year.

Sempra Unit Completes Acquisition of El Paso Corp. Assets

Sempra Pipelines & Storage, a unit of San Diego-based Sempra Energy, announced May 3 the completion of its acquisition of pipeline and gas infrastructure assets of El Paso Corp. for $260 million, net of cash and debt.

U.S. Bank to Close 8 Former San Diego National Branches

BANKING: Offices Are Near Existing Sites, Nation’s 5th Largest Commercial Bank Says

U.S. Bank, which acquired failed San Diego National Bank last year, said it is closing eight San Diego National branches plus one USB office in a consolidation process that will give it 80 branches in the county.

Creativity, Innovation and the American University

One bright spot on the educational horizon is an organization called HASTAC.

Hispanic Businesses Help San Diego Region Thrive

Propelled by a thriving Hispanic business presence, many business sectors in San Diego have remained comparatively stable during recent down economic times.

Target Campaign Kicks in $220K for Military Reading Program

United Through Reading participated in Target’s Super Love Sender Facebook campaign, winning second place with a $220,000 contribution from Target

Sales and leases

Sales and leases in and around San Diego County

Real Estate Roundup

Real estate news in and around San Diego County

San Diego People

New hires and promotions in and around San Diego County

Executive Profile: Todd Jackson

Todd Jackson is chief executive of Jackson Design and Remodeling, a design-build remodeling company located in Kearny Mesa.

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Office Landlords Strike Up Deals to Raise Occupancy, Cash Flow

REAL ESTATE: Tenants Seize Opportunity to Move To Larger, Renovated Space

Office building landlords usually aren’t overly anxious to spend money on tenant improvements in a down market, say analysts, but they are more than ready to fill any available spaces they have with cut-rate lease deals.

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Surplus Commercial Space a Windfall for Bargain-Hunting Tenants

REAL ESTATE: Landlords Lure Small Businesses With Markdowns and Makeovers

As continuing high vacancy rates among San Diego County commercial properties force landlords to sharply cut rents and offer concessions as a means of keeping existing tenants and attracting new ones, the weak market can mean big bargains for savvy small firms looking to lease or purchase space.

Irvine Co. Commits $70M To Class A Office Upgrades

CONSTRUCTION: Steady Stream of Improvements Fits Long-Term Formula

When it comes to spending money on tenant improvements, The Irvine Co. LLC is probably one of the few real estate companies that sees it as a long-term investment, not a short-term fix.

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Executive Profile: Hubert von der Beeck

Hubert von der Beeck is founder, president and CEO of Kool Fit America Inc., a sports medicine company based in National City that manufactures and markets a line of proprietary over-the-counter drug products for sports teams, athletes and the general public for pain management and to enhance athletic performance.

Highest-Paid Bankers Watch Their Compensation Decline

The federal government’s attempts to rein in the exorbitant salaries of some of the biggest banks’ executives may be filtering down to the community bank level, or perhaps it’s just the crummy economy.

Regional Report

News and notes from communities around San Diego County

Community Bank Posts $260,000 in Net Income

California Community Bank, based in Escondido and with four branches, reported first quarter net income of $260,000 compared to a net loss of $250,000 for the like quarter of 2009 in a report released April 28.

Panelists Mull Regional Water Supply, Circa 2060

Since the state’s formation in 1850, water has been one of the signature issues in California.

Vibra Bank Grows Assets As It Pares Its Net Loss

Vibra Bank, a one-office bank that opened in 2008, reported a first quarter net loss of $274,000, compared to a net loss of $467,000 for the first quarter of 2009, the bank said April 26.

Bridgepoint Education To Sponsor Holiday Bowl

San Diego’s Bridgepoint Education signed a three-year agreement to become the title sponsor for the Holiday Bowl, the company and college bowl game organizers said April 29.

Sempra Will Incur Charge To Settle Energy Crisis Suits

Sempra Energy, parent of San Diego Gas & Electric Co., said it has reached a settlement in principle with the state of California regarding long-standing state and federal lawsuits over its role in the energy crisis of 2000-01 that will result in a payment of $410 million, the company said April 28.

CCDC Pushes for Eco-Friendly Construction in Downtown San Diego

REAL ESTATE: Agency Leads Drive for Sustainable Urban Development

With Earth Day as a backdrop on April 22, San Diego government leaders and the Centre City Development Corp. unveiled a new initiative aimed at stimulating construction of environmentally sustainable projects in the downtown area.

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Alliant Teams To Work on Calexico Center

Alliant International University has teamed up with Los Angeles County-based EcoDynamics LLC to build a science institute and agricultural center in Calexico. The center, set for completion in 2012, is the first of several international projects involving the San Diego County university and EcoDynamics, a subsidiary of Calabasas-based Rain Shadows Entertainment Inc.

UCSD Program Aids White-Collar Workers in Transition

EMPLOYMENT: Education Project Imparts New Skills, Assists in Job Search

A new program aimed at helping white collar professionals seeking to change careers is launching at UC San Diego Extension this month.

Pixon Clears the Air With Image Processing Technology

TECHNOLOGY: Company Brings More Clarity to Obscured Video Images

Stellar subjects got him started, but less-than-stellar picture quality steered Richard Puetter and Pixon Imaging LLC into the video-enhancement business.

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Area’s Economy Steams Ahead During March

The USD Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose an entire percentage point in March, continuing a yearlong rise and far exceeding its 0.2 percent advance in February.

Activity in Industrial Real Estate Market Increases

REAL ESTATE: Landlords Offering Upgrades, Lower Rents to Keep Spaces Filled

San Diego County’s industrial real estate prospects perked up in 2010’s first quarter, as vacancies trended downward from the prior quarter, and sales and lease activity increased compared with a year ago.

REIT Closes IPO, Goes Shopping for Retail Properties

FINANCE: Excel Trust Nets Nearly $200 Million From Initial Public Offering

After wrapping up its initial public offering of common stock April 23-28, San Diego-based Excel Trust Inc. is using its net proceeds, approximately $193.8 million, to go shopping for retail property bargains.

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Former Magazine Owner Buys Back Local Publication

Jim Fitzpatrick, who was unceremoniously led to the door two years ago to abruptly end his tenure as publisher of San Diego Magazine, returns in triumph to lead one of the top metro magazines in the nation. Fitzpatrick, along with a very successful father-son magazine publishing team from Palm Springs, picks up the financially ailing publication from CurtCo Media Labs LLC, which publishes the Robb Report, among other titles.

With California in the Lead, Tech Jobs Make Comeback

TECHNOLOGY: San Diego Mirrors National Trend With Smaller Tech Firms Hiring First

As is the case with practically every other sector in the economy, high technology industries have shed thousands of jobs during this Great Recession, but the overall losses have been fewer, especially in California, which has the biggest concentration of these jobs, according to a report last week from the TechAmerica Foundation, a trade group.

Dwindling Prices, Tight Supply Spark Downtown Home Sales

REAL ESTATE: Tax Credits, Relaxed Financing Restrictions Also Helping Market Rebound

Downtown San Diego home sales started 2010 by continuing a rebound that began in 2009, aided by a combination of lower pricing, tightening supply, low interest rates and government tax credits geared to first-time buyers.

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