Record SBA Loans

Women Philanthropists

Professional Politics 101: Gregory Fehrenbach

Website Review:

Rutgers in January

Donations Please

Nominating CPAs

Corrections or additions?

This article was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on November 24,

1999. All rights reserved.

Biotechs Explained: Gordon Ramseier

by Barbara Fox

How to evaluate a biotech before you invest in it: Find

out whether it has its own products in the pipeline or makes a tool

kit for others to find products.

"The reasonably smart wisdom is that the selling of services or

tools creates a less sustainable and less profitable volume business

than developing drugs," says Gordon Ramseier, a consultant

with the Sage Group in Bridgewater. "It is less risky to develop

a drug-finding tool, such as a genetically engineered mouse or a


library, but it will not take the lion’s share of the profit when

the drug goes on the market."

Ramseier joins Robert S. Esposito of KPMG for their annual


on the state of the biotech business given to the Biotechnology


of New Jersey. This year the meeting location will be an additional

incentive to attend, because it is set for Jasna Polana, the elegant

golf club that used to be the Johnson estate, on Wednesday, December

1, at 4:30 p.m. The title of the report is "The Rationale for

Strategic Consolidation Among Small and Microcap Biotech


Industry awards will also be presented as part of this holiday gala.

The entrance fee (this is too posh an event to call it a ticket price)

is $155. Call 609-890-3185.

Some companies, Ramseier says, are hybrids of the two types.

Pharmacopeia, for instance, does combinatorial chemistry

and maintains a library, but it is also doing its own drug discovery.

Medarex is another hybrid, because it has a genetically

engineered mouse that can be considered a "tool kit" for


drugs, but it also has its own drugs in the pipeline. Ramseier


the value of Medarex will be largely generated by discovering drugs

because drugs that get through the pipeline and come on the market

are the real income producers.

Celgene. His conjecture is bolstered by the stock market’s

sudden frenzy of excitement over Celgene, a Warren-based firm that

was selling at $9 last year and was over $50 at press time. "What

makes the difference? They launched products, and now they look like

a company with a pipeline of products," says Ramseier.

Enzon is another sleeper, a former tool kit company that

now has a product to treat hepatitis. "The market woke up. Of

all the public biotechs in New Jersey on our list, Enzon has the


market cap of any, over $1 billion," he says. (The market cap

is the value of the company based on the number of shares outstanding

times the stock price.)

Ramseier hastens to add that he is not an investment advisor

and that any investment in a New Jersey biotech should be considered

a risky one. "Because of a single event, perhaps a delay from

the FDA, you can see their value change 40 percent in one day. We

don’t have any public biotechs of the size of Amgen or Biogen, which

can more easily absorb a single bad event."

Ramseier is one of the Sage Group’s six healthcare strategy


who work with companies directly and also with venture capitalists

and other investors ( Each has

run a small or emerging biotech/biomedical company at least once.

A chemistry major at Washington & Lee, Class of 1966, with an MBA

from Dartmouth’s Tuck School, Ramseier had been CEO of two firms —

a California firm now known as Dura Pharmaceuticals, and a Minnesota

firm, OncoTherapeutics, which he moved to New Jersey and is now known

as Biomira and located on Eastpark Boulevard. He left Oncotherapeutics

in 1994.

"We consult to our clients based on our collective experience

of how to make companies succeed. We put them in contact with the

right people, introduce them to venture capitalists, and help small

companies put together deals with larger companies," says


Last summer he did a deal between a New Jersey-based Korean


company and OMP (Ortho McNeil Pharmaceuticals).

Three of the group’s consultants have backgrounds in


and drugs and the other three focus on medical devices and


"Each of us has certain contacts so in one company one of us is

going to be the best guy to call. Business developers in big companies

have desks piled high and a difficult time triaging everything. If

we call they tend to give some credence to what we are calling about,

that they should at least look at it."

Venture capitalists call the Sage Group when they perceive that one

of their portfolio companies has a problem — perhaps to get a

deal done or license a product quickly before the money runs out.

"We can add horsepower to an effort," says Ramseier. "In

some cases a company has rudimentary capabilities for business


and for doing deals with larger companies. In other cases they have

quite capable people and can do a lot themselves. Where we can be

helpful is broadening the contacts of the company. It is almost


that at whatever rate they are doing their business development, we

can accelerate it. We know the people at the other end of the


In order to retain credibility, consultants must be selective about

the clients they work with. "We couldn’t sell a pig in a


says Ramseier.

— Barbara Figge Fox

Top Of Page
Record SBA Loans

Valley National Bank is first and Fleet Bank in New

Jersey is second in the state in the number of Small Business


loan approvals made this year. Prizes were handed out at the


Hilton earlier this month.

Valley National and Fleet Bank received Diamond and Gold awards


for approving 100 or more SBA loans. Commerce Bank — which


opened a branch on Route 33 — won a silver award for approving

93 loans. In the bronze category, for 40 to 74 loans approved, were

PNC Bank, First Union National Bank, and Summit Bank, among others.

Summit approved $13.8 million in loans.

Amboy National Bank (which has branches in Rocky Hill and Hopewell)

won a special award for what is known as the 504 Loan Program. Fleet,

Valley National, and PNC Bank were in the top 10 lenders to


Of the $32.3 million loaned by Valley National, $8 million went to

minorities in 40 loans. Of the $8.3 million that Fleet loaned overall,

$3 million went to minorities in 47 loans.

"These lenders are vital to SBA’s Guaranty Loan Program and the

growth of the New Jersey small business economy," says


A. Marrero, noting a record year of lending in 1999 — 1,572

loans for $395.5 million. To inquire about the possibility of an SBA

loan, call Harry Menta at 973-645-6064.

Top Of Page
Women Philanthropists

Women are philanthropists by nature, but just how


they are we are only beginning to find out. The National Foundation

of Women Business Owners recently released the findings of a Merrill

Lynch study that shows that today’s accomplished women entrepreneurs

and executives make their choices about charitable donations on their

own (without outside input from husbands, etc.) and nearly half of

them do it to the tune of $25,000 annually. All this is noteworthy

information for fundraisers and development people.

The Merrill Lynch study was based on a survey of the Committee of

200, an organization of business women who own companies that have

revenues in excess of $15 million, or manage divisions of U.S.


generating a minimum of $100 million each year.

Smart business women are looking for organizations that are also


savvy, the report says, although women want to support the issues

they care about. Education-related organizations were overwhelmingly

(51 percent) popular among women philanthropists, with women’s


(42 percent) and arts organizations (41 percent) closely following.

However, the women surveyed said that fundraisers need to alter their

approach to get the best results:

Many women are put off by the way they are solicited by

philanthropic organizations. Forty-two percent felt that the way they

were approached was a moderate to significant barrier to their giving.

Some women feel organizations are eager to please men,

but not women. One out of every four women interviewed said that they

do not believe they are taken as seriously by philanthropic


as their male counterparts.

Recognition is not a key factor in how women give. In

fact, 40 percent surveyed said they don’t want to be recognized, and

19 percent said they would like to be recognized only with other


— no matter what the level of giving.

Whether they shell out $100 or $100,000, women just aren’t


for their name on a building, generally speaking. Rather, they prefer

to know that they gave back to the community and can help make a


future for everyone.

Top Of Page
Professional Politics 101: Gregory Fehrenbach

Steve Forbes, Donald Trump, and Ross

Perot — three icons of the American Dream — have each run

political campaigns on the premise that their business know-how would

prevail where political experience is lacking. But what if the rules

of government and the rules of business are different?

At the municipal level, the rules are very different, says Gregory

Fehrenbach, who oversees a budget of $32 million as the chief


for Piscataway Township. "In business, if the law doesn’t prohibit

it, it is permitted, but in municipal government, it’s just the


— if it’s not permitted in the law it is prohibited," he says.

"You have to know the rules of the game before you start playing

the game and it takes a long time to learn the rules — years and


With 30 years of government service under his belt in the "second

most regulated state in the nation," Fehrenbach feels he knows

those rules well — well enough to teach them to newly elected

officials as part of the municipal government certificate program

offered by the Rutgers Center for Government Service. Fehrenbach


the five-session primer course, "The Power and Duties of the


Government," beginning on Thursday, December 2, at Civic Square

(Livingston Avenue and New Street) from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Other


cover municipal finance, planning and zoning, labor relations, public

relations, ethics, budgeting, public purchasing, taxes, and meetings,

and they are offered in various counties in the state. Call


Cost: $166.

The courses are designed to show freshman politicians the ropes, but

they can also help experienced politicians (and concerned citizens)

do their jobs better. "People who have been in office two or three

years say I wish I took this class," he says.

The first thing that most freshman politicians are shocked to learn

is that, no matter what size the budget, almost all of it is spent

before they even take office, says Fehrenbach, who holds a BA in


and economics from Kings College, Class of 1969, and a graduate degree

in public administration from the University of Wisconsin. "When

you look at a municipal budget for $20 million, you’re going to find

that the amount of that budget that is discretionary, that is not

committed to something already by the law, is only a couple of hundred

thousand, a small percent," he says. The money is largely


by state agencies that "that regulate almost everything that


do, whether it’s the conduct of meetings, police operations, or


Sound insidious? Only Massachusetts is more regulated than New Jersey,

Fehrenbach says. But he doesn’t want to scare away enthusiastic,


individuals who want to make a difference: "The purpose of this

class is not to throw a wet blanket on that desire to make things

better for their community," he says. "As things have become

more technical and more complicated, these courses can provide an

appropriate introduction. It’s a minor baptism before they go into

the actual job on January 1."

Top Of Page
Website Review:

Asian Assets Direct is a new niche newsletter provided

by Straube Center-based Tim Shorrock, the

managing editor of the Internet-based newsletter, will concentrate

on what he terms Asia’s biggest economic story — the sale to


investors of billions of dollars in assets and non-performing loans

in South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan. Correspondents are

located in Bangkok, Seoul, Jakarta, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and New York.

"As the financial crisis eases, U.S. and European banks and


are working behind the scenes, making deals with government-run asset

management companies, and, for the first time, taking control of Asian

banks and corporations," says Shorrock. "Investors will find

materials here they will not find anywhere else."

Founded by Dow Jones expatriates, aims to cover,


and deliver news and research information for professionals (U.S.

1, July 7). Its first vertical service was Commercial Real Estate


Both websites are structured so that the front page can cover as much

material as possible. Nearly two dozen headlines from other news


are clickable in one column, and several major stories written by

VertiNews reporters are in another column. The third column offers

a limited search engine (no search by key word is available), regional

reports, and day-by-day headline summaries.

For instance, recent offerings on the Commercial Real Estate site

range from an Associated Press story about a burned-out Philadelphia

skyscraper that is being demolished to a Boston-based fund that has

raised $195 million to invest in REITs and real estate operating


On the Asian page, correspondents discuss how a United States fund

is investing in a state-run bank in Korea, how a Thai group is


creditors over management control of a conglomerate, and how cell

phone companies in Korea are a big hit with foreign investors.

Would-be subscribers can get a free 30-day trial at


Top Of Page
Rutgers in January

New this year is a winter session at Rutgers, a


intensive schedule offering 27 undergraduate and graduate courses.

Register without a late fee by December 3 and take class from December

23 to January 24.

Courses will include foreign language, American culture, an institute

on topics in special education — and a field study of coral reefs

and marine life in the Cayman Islands. Both traditional classroom

study and distance-learning activities via the Internet will be used.

Registration is available at

"If feedback from students and faculty is favorable, Winter


may become a permanent option at Rutgers," says Richard


executive director of continuous education and distance learning.

Top Of Page
Donations Please

The Huntington’s Disease Society of America is

selling its "2000 Entertainment Book," a county-specific book

of coupons for everything from pizza to fine dining, laundry to


The books, which make good gifts for the holidays, cost $30. The


is also selling Amaryllis bulbs at $10 each. Proceeds support research

and services for people with Huntington’s, a heritages terminal


for which there is no cure. Call 609-448-3500.

The League of Women Voters in Princeton is collecting holiday

gifts for WomanSpace, the organization that helps protect women and

children from abuse, as it has done for the past 26 years. The wish

list includes children’s toys, women’s garments, and gift


New and unwrapped gifts should be delivered by Friday, December 17,

at Weichert Realtors on 350 Nassau Street. Call 609-921-1900.

The New Jersey Community Loan Fund is raising money by selling

tickets for the Friday, December 17, performance of "Play On!"

at Crossroads Theater. Tickets start at $250 (for two) and go to $600

(for six). Call 609-989-7766.

Top Of Page
Nominating CPAs

Nominations are being accepted by the American Institute

of Certified Public Accountants for the second annual Business &


Hall of Fame Awards. The award honors who have "insight and


and demonstrate leadership, commitment, and strategic management


necessary to meet the challenges of the new economy.

Nominations can be completed online at

and must be in before December 31. call 212-596-6157.

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