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Week in Review

Friday, April 22

Tax Idea Floated:

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce called on the mayor and City Council to review its plan to generate new revenue for the city’s crumbling infrastructure.

The chamber is proposing a $2 fee per day on all rental car transactions, and consideration of an increase in the real estate transfer tax to $3.60 per $1,000 on real estate sales. The tax is paid on the sale of property, based on the purchase price of the property at the time of sale, according to the chamber’s communications manager, Kristine Norquist. The total property transfer tax paid to both the city and county of San Diego amounts to $1.10 per $1,000 of sales price for all property transfers that occur within city limits. In 2003, the city’s real estate sales totaled $19 billion.

According to the chamber’s economic research bureau, if a home were sold within the city of San Diego for $580,000, an estimated real estate transfer tax of $638 would be assessed, with half that amount, or $319, going to the city. If the tax were raised to $3.60, an estimated transfer tax of $2,088 would be assessed, of which the city would get $1,450, and the county $638 on the sale of the same property.

, Pat Broderick

– – –

JMAR Founder Leaves:

John S. Martinez resigned from the board of JMAR Technologies, Inc. after 18 years with the company he founded. The board elected Paul Gilman, founding director of the Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies, to fill the vacancy. Shareholders have yet to approve the board members’ decision. JMAR conducts work in lasers, X-rays and chemical sensors for the defense and commercial sectors. It trades on the Nasdaq under its own name.

, Brad Graves

Monday, April 25

Vote On Stem Cell Center:

A key vote may have hurt San Diego’s chances of landing the headquarters of California’s stem cell institute, according to San Diego officials.

Members of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s site selection committee decided to add an existing scoring system , which currently ranks San Francisco first, Sacramento second, San Diego third and Emeryville fourth , in a statewide competition to land the headquarters site to a second scoring system that members will use to further evaluate the four cities during their site visits late last week.

Besides adopting a combined scoring system, members agreed to change some of the criteria to be used to further evaluate the cities during the site visits, raising the total possible points from 60 to 90.

The first scoring system was worth 200 points.

The best hope for San Diego now is that it will be ranked among the two finalists on May 2, when the subcommittee makes its final recommendation to the full board, Roth said.

The final authority lies with the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee members, said Robert Klein, the panel’s chairman and a member of the site search subcommittee.

Members could give a preference or reject either of the two finalists, Klein said.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is a voter-approved initiative funding $3 billion in embryonic stem cell research grants.

, Marion Webb

– – –

Sempra Taps Russia:

San Diego-based Sempra Energy revealed the liquefied natural gas terminal it would like to build off Baja California near San Diego may one day become a North American point of entry for Russian natural gas.

Sempra Global, the umbrella for Sempra Energy’s businesses operating in competitive markets, announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Gazprom, billed as the largest natural gas producing company in the world.

The nonbinding agreement involves the import of Russian liquefied natural gas into Sempra LNG’s receipt terminals under development in North America, and marketing the natural gas through an arrangement with Sempra Commodities.

Sempra LNG, a unit of Sempra Global, is developing three LNG receipt terminals in North America. Its Energia Costa Azul terminal in Baja California is under construction and on schedule to be operational by 2008. The Cameron LNG terminal near Lake Charles, La., is fully permitted and could begin operations in 2008. The third LNG receipt terminal, Port Arthur LNG, near Port Arthur, Texas, is in the permitting process at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and could be operational in 2009.

The agreement is considered an important step in providing Russian gas supplies to the U.S. market, said Alexey Miller, the chairman of Gazprom.

& #8209;, Pat Broderick

Tuesday, April 26

Memec Acquired: Memec, a global distributor of semiconductors that moved its headquarters from London to Carmel Valley two years ago, agreed to be acquired by Avnet Inc. in a deal valued at $676 million.

Avnet, a Phoenix-based marketer and distributor of electronic components that generated sales of $10 billion in 2004, will pay Memec investors about 24 million shares of its stock, traded as AVT on the New York Stock Exchange, and $64 million in cash.

The deal includes Memec’s debt of about $194 million.

David Ashworth, Memec’s chief executive officer, said the company was exploring a number of strategic alternatives and that combining with Avnet provided the best prospects for the future.

Memec, described as the world’s largest distributor of semiconductors, had about $2.3 billion in sales last year. It has operations in 33 countries, and 2,400 employees, including about 275 in San Diego.

The transaction, subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close in 60 to 90 days. The company didn’t say whether it would maintain the San Diego office once the sale is completed.

, Mike Allen

Wednesday, April 27

Peters To Lead Transition:

San Diego City Councilman Scott Peters was unanimously elected to lead the transition to the strong mayor form of government approved by voters in November.

Peters will chair the City Council’s Transition Committee, made up of all the council members except Mayor Dick Murphy.

In January, the city will embark on a five-year trial to test the new system, which will change from a city manager format to a strong mayor.

Under the system, the mayor will function as the city’s chief executive officer, similar to the governor or the president.

The council will act as the legislative body, providing checks and balances to the mayor’s new authority.

At the end of the five-year trial, voters will decide whether or not to make the new system permanent.

, Pat Broderick

– – –

Poinsettia Bowl Gets Sponsor:

San Diego County Credit Union, the area’s largest credit union with more than $2.5 billion in assets, was named the title sponsor of the Poinsettia Bowl, the postseason college football game set to debut at Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 22.

The organizers of the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, which will manage the new bowl game, said the credit union signed a two-year sponsoring agreement. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. This year’s Holiday Bowl is scheduled for Dec. 29.

, Mike Allen

Thursday, April 28

Titan Revenues Soar: Titan Corp., the San Diego-based communications defense contractor, reported net income of $19 million on revenues of $559 million for the first quarter, compared with net income of $3.1 million on revenues of $454 million for the like period of 2004.

Titan’s profits on record quarterly sales were depressed by after-tax costs of $3.7 million related to a federal investigation into admitted violations of the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The company announced last month that it agreed to pay the government $28 million in combined criminal and civil penalties arising from the violations , the largest ever levied for FCPA transgressions.

The violations involved payments made by Titan contracted employees used to influence the outcome of a presidential election in the African nation of Benin, where Titan had business dealings.

Titan’s net income during 2004 was also reduced from $11 million in after-tax costs associated with its planned sale to Lockheed Martin, which pulled out of the deal in 2004 when Titan and federal agencies investigating the bribery matter did not reach a settlement.

For this fiscal year, Titan projected sales to finish between $2.37 billion and $2.45 billion, up from 2004, when it had $2.05 billion in revenues.

Net income on continuing operations was estimated to come between $1.02 to $1.11 per share, fully diluted.

Titan has 12,000 employees worldwide, including about 1,300 in San Diego.

, Mike Allen

– – –

AMCC Reports Loss:

Applied Micro Circuits Corp., the San Diego-based maker of high-speed chips used in telecommunications network systems, reported a net loss of $5.3 million on revenues of $64.2 million for its fourth quarter ended March 31.

The results compared with a net loss of $2.1 million on revenues of $47.4 million for the same quarter in the prior fiscal year.

For the full fiscal year, AMCC reported a net loss of $127.4 million on revenues of $253.8 million, compared with a net loss of $104.9 million on revenues of $131.2 million for the 2004 fiscal year.

The company attempted to put a positive spin on the financials, calling the past fiscal year strong, with revenues doubling and achieving operating profitability one quarter ahead of what was planned.

The operating profit was reported on a pro forma basis. Pro forma, meaning “as if,” excludes many extraordinary expenses, such as litigation costs and restructuring charges. Without those charges, AMCC said it would have had earnings of $3.6 million for the quarter. However, the net loss based on generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, and reported to federal regulators, remains at $5.3 million.

AMCC, traded on Nasdaq, closed at $2.76, unchanged from the previous day, giving it a market capitalization of $850 million.

, Mike Allen

– – –

Avanir Lands Novartis Deal:

Shares of Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc. rose 6.04 percent in early morning trading after the San Diego-based biotechnology company announced it landed a multimillion-dollar partnership deal with Swiss drug maker Novartis AG to try to develop oral drugs for treating inflammatory diseases.

Avanir said it could receive more than $200 million in combined upfront and milestone payments and additional royalties on worldwide sales on any approved products.

Novartis also agreed to provide Avanir research money of up to $2.5 million annually for up to four years, the companies said.

The Basel, Switzerland-based drug partner would assume the costs for developing any drugs coming out of the research.

Avanir’s stock trades under the ticker symbol AVN on the American Stock Exchange. It closed at $2.90.

, Marion Webb


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