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WEEK IN REVIEW

WEEK IN REVIEW

TOP BUSINESS NEWS: April 12 – 18

Favrille Raises $44 Million in Funding: Favrille Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing targeted immunotherapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases, recently raised $44 million in a third round of financing with private investors.

Favrille plans to use the money to continue its Phase II studies, the second of three testing stages, and start a “pivotal” Phase III trial to evaluate its lead cancer drug, FavId.

William Blair Capital Partners led the round.

New investors included Needham Capital Partners, Avtech Ventures, Oakwood Medical Investors, Piper Jaffray Ventures, Boston Life Science Venture Corp., and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

They joined existing investors Forward Ventures of San Diego, Sanderling Ventures of San Mateo, Alloy Ventures of Palo Alto, De Novo Ventures of Menlo Park, and Lotus BioScience Investment Holdings Ltd.

, Marion Webb

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Zettel Named New State Consumer Affairs Chief: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed San Diego County Regional Airport Authority board member Charlene Zettel as director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

Zettel, a Poway resident, began her two-year term on the airport authority board in December 2002. On April 8, the agency announced that Zettel had already left the board for her new position in Sacramento.

“I look forward to working with Gov. Schwarzenegger to maintain the highest standards for all goods and services provided in the state,” Zettel said in a prepared statement.

The Department of Consumer Affairs looks out for consumer interests by regulating and licensing more than 230 industries, such as cosmetology, dentistry, and automobile repair.

The airport authority operates the San Diego International Airport and assesses the region’s long-term airport needs. It is governed by a nine-member appointed Board representing all areas of the county.

, Rene’e Beasley Jones

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No U.S.-Mexico Tequila Deal Yet: Media reports last week indicated that the Mexican government had bowed to U.S. and Canadian pressure and decided to drop its proposal that all tequila must be bottled in Mexico instead of trucked over in containers.

However according to Curt Cultice, a U.S. Department of Commerce spokesman, NAFTA members Mexico, the U.S. and Canada “are still in the process of negotiating a formal agreement in which Mexico would drop its proposed restrictions on bulk exports of tequila, in exchange for commitments by the United States and Canada to address Mexican concerns about the protection of tequila outside of Mexico.”

Mexican bottlers have argued that they can only protect the authenticity of the product if all tequila is bottled in Mexico.

Only 17 percent of tequila imports are bottled in Mexico, while 83 percent are bottled in California, Missouri, Kentucky, and Arkansas, according to Debbie Lamb, senior vice president for international relations for the Distilled Spirits Council.

Lamb warned of a spike in prices for non-premium lower- and medium-end tequilas, and lost jobs for U.S. bottlers if Mexican bottlers get their way.

Tequila is the fastest-growing distilled spirit in the U.S., representing 4.7 percent of all distilled spirits sales, according to latest statistics from the Distilled Spirits Council. Sales grew 9.1 percent between 2001-02. Jose Cuervo Gold, the top selling tequila in the U.S., is mainly bottled at the Diageo bottling plant in Menlo Park.

, Julie Poucher Harbin

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New President at Legacy Bank: Legacy Bank, a La Jolla bank that opened in December 2002, said it named its vice chairman, Martin Dickinson, as its new president and CEO, replacing Doug Sawyer, the bank’s original CEO. Dickinson “is probably the interim president,” says chairman Chris McKellar, who declined to say why Sawyer resigned.

McKellar said the bank hasn’t attained its budgetary goals, and is re-grouping. Legacy has been losing money, but that’s usual for a new bank. It listed total assets of $25 million, and net loans of $12 million at the end of 2003.

Dickinson, the bank’s co-founder, has some 40 years of local banking experience, including stints with Scripps Bank, La Jolla Bank & Trust Co., San Diego Trust & Savings Bank, and Security First National Bank.

Before helping organize and open Legacy, Sawyer had been the head of the small business division for the Southern California region for the Bank of America, and was also at Great American Bank.

, Mike Allen

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Guilty Plea in Credit Union Embezzlement Scheme: A former credit union branch manager pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $300,000 over two years in a court hearing April 6 before U.S. District Judge John S. Rhodes.

Leanne Marion Truitt, 39, a former branch operations manager for North Island Federal Credit Union, pleaded guilty to three counts of making false entries in the credit union’s ledgers as part of a scheme to embezzle $333,317, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Truitt faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and an order returning the full amount of the embezzled cash when she appears for sentencing in June.

, Mike Allen

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